1731. Post election reflection

Thee is much thinking going on, much of it narrow and blame thrusting.We need good thinking , thinking that includes more today than it did yesterday.

Here is the best so far. Greenwald.

https://theintercept.com/2016/11/09/democrats-trump-and-the-ongoing-dangerous-refusal-to-learn-the-lesson-of-brexit/

Democrats, Trump, and the Ongoing, Dangerous Refusal to Learn the Lesson of Brexit

Glenn Greenwald
November 9 2016, 7:43 a.m.
THE PARALLELS BETWEEN the U.K.’s shocking approval of the Brexit referendum in June and the U.S.’ even more shocking election of Donald Trump as president last night are overwhelming. Elites (outside of populist right-wing circles) aggressively unified across ideological lines in opposition to both. Supporters of Brexit and Trump were continually maligned by the dominant media narrative (validly or otherwise) as primitive, stupid, racist, xenophobic, and irrational. In each case, journalists who spend all day chatting with one another on Twitter and congregating in exclusive social circles in national capitals — constantly re-affirming their own wisdom in an endless feedback loop — were certain of victory. Afterward, the elites whose entitlement to prevail was crushed devoted their energies to blaming everyone they could find except for themselves, while doubling down on their unbridled contempt for those who defied them, steadfastly refusing to examine what drove their insubordination.

The indisputable fact is that prevailing institutions of authority in the West, for decades, have relentlessly and with complete indifference stomped on the economic welfare and social security of hundreds of millions of people. While elite circles gorged themselves on globalism, free trade, Wall Street casino-gambling, and endless wars (wars that enriched the perpetrators and sent the poorest and most marginalized to bear all their burdens), they completely ignored the victims of their gluttony, except when those victims piped up a bit too much — when they caused a ruckus — and were then scornfully condemned as troglodytes who were the deserved losers in the glorious, global game of meritocracy.

That message was heard loud and clear. The institutions and elite factions that have spent years mocking, maligning, and pillaging large portions of the population — all while compiling their own long record of failure and corruption and destruction — are now shocked that their dictates and decrees go unheeded. But human beings are not going to follow and obey the exact people they most blame for their suffering. They’re going to do exactly the opposite: purposely defy them and try to impose punishment in retaliation. Their instruments for retaliation are Brexit and Trump. Those are their agents, dispatched on a mission of destruction: aimed at a system and culture that they regard, not without reason, as rife with corruption and, above all else, contempt for them and their welfare.

After the Brexit vote, I wrote an article comprehensively detailing these dynamics, which I won’t repeat here but hope those interested will read. The title conveys the crux: “Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions.” That analysis was inspired by a short, incredibly insightful, and now-more-relevant-than-ever post-Brexit Facebook note by The Los Angeles Times’ Vincent Bevins, who wrote that “both Brexit and Trumpism are the very, very wrong answers to legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for 30 years”; in particular, “since the 1980s the elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand, taking all the gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt.”

For those who tried to remove themselves from the self-affirming, vehemently pro-Clinton elite echo chamber of 2016, the warning signs that Brexit screechingly announced were not hard to see. These two short passages from a Slate interview I gave in July — here and here — summarized those grave dangers: that opinion-making elites were so clustered, so incestuous, so far removed from the people who would decide this election, so contemptuous of them, that they were not only incapable of seeing the trends toward Trump but were unwittingly accelerating those trends with their own condescending, self-glorifying behavior.

Like most everyone else who saw the polling data and predictive models of the media’s self-proclaimed data experts, I long believed Clinton would win, but the reasons why she very well could lose were not hard to see. The warning lights were flashing in neon for a long time, but they were in seedy places that elites studiously avoid. The few people who purposely went to those places and listened, such as Chris Arnade, saw and heard them loud and clear. The ongoing failure to take heed of this intense but invisible resentment and suffering guarantees that it will fester and strengthen. This was the last paragraph of my July article on the Brexit fallout:

Instead of acknowledging and addressing the fundamental flaws within themselves, [elites] are devoting their energies to demonizing the victims of their corruption, all in order to delegitimize those grievances and thus relieve themselves of responsibility to meaningfully address them. That reaction only serves to bolster, if not vindicate, the animating perceptions that these elite institutions are hopelessly self-interested, toxic, and destructive and thus cannot be reformed but rather must be destroyed. That, in turn, only ensures there will be many more Brexits, and Trumps, in our collective future.

Beyond the Brexit analysis, there are three new points from last night’s results that I want to emphasize, as they are unique to the 2016 U.S. election and, more importantly, illustrate the elite pathologies that led to all of this:

(1) DEMOCRATS HAVE ALREADY BEGUN FLAILING AROUND trying to blame anyone and everyone they can find — everyone except themselves — for last night’s crushing defeat of their party. You know the drearily predictable list of their scapegoats: Russia, WikiLeaks, James Comey, Jill Stein, Bernie Bros, The Media, news outlets (including, perhaps especially, the Intercept) which sinned by reporting negatively on Hillary Clinton. Anyone who thinks that what happened last night in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa and Michigan can be blamed on any of that is drowning in self-protective ignorance so deep that it’s impossible to express in words.

When a political party is demolished, the principle responsibility belongs to one entity: the party that got crushed. It’s the job of the party and the candidate, and nobody else, to persuade the citizenry to support them and find ways to do that. Last night, the Democrats failed, resoundingly, to do that, and any autopsy or liberal think piece or pro-Clinton-pundit commentary that does not start and finish with their own behavior is one that is inherently worthless.

Put simply, Democrats knowingly chose to nominate a deeply unpopular, extremely vulnerable, scandal-plagued candidate, who — for very good reason — was widely perceived to be a protector and beneficiary of all the worst components of status quo elite corruption. It’s astonishing that those of us who tried frantically to warn Democrats that nominating Hillary Clinton was a huge and scary gamble, that all empirical evidence showed that she could lose to anyone and that Bernie Sanders would be a much stronger candidate especially in this climate — are now the ones being blamed: by the very same people who insisted on ignoring all that data and nominating her anyway.

But that’s just basic blame-shifting and self-preservation. Far more significant is what this shows about the mentality of the Democratic Party. Just think about who they nominated: someone who — when she wasn’t dining with Saudi monarchs and being feted in Davos by tyrants who gave million-dollar checks — spent the last several years piggishly running around to Wall Street banks and major corporations cashing in with $250,000 fees for 45-minute secret speeches even though she had already become unimaginably rich with book advances while her husband already made tens of millions playing these same games. She did all that without the slightest apparent concern for how that would feed into all the perceptions and resentments of her and the Democratic Party as corrupt, status-quo-protecting, aristocratic tools of the rich and powerful: exactly the worst possible behavior for this post-2008-economic-crisis era of globalism and destroyed industries.

It goes without saying that Trump is a sociopathic con artist obsessed with personal enrichment: the opposite of a genuine warrior for the downtrodden. That’s too obvious to debate. But, just as Obama did so powerfully in 2008, he could credibly run as an enemy of the D.C. and Wall Street system that has steamrolled over so many people, while Hillary Clinton is its loyal guardian, its consummate beneficiary.

Trump vowed to destroy the system that elites love (for good reason) and the masses hate (for equally good reason), while Clinton vowed to more efficiently manage it. That, as Matt Stoller’s indispensable article in the Atlantic three weeks ago documented, is the conniving choice the Democratic Party made decades ago: to abandon populism and become the party of technocratically proficient, mildly benevolent managers of elite power. Those are the cynical, self-interested seeds they planted, and now the crop has sprouted.

Of course there are fundamental differences between Obama’s version of “change” and Trump’s. But at a high level of generality — which is where these messages are often ingested — both were perceived as outside forces on a mission to tear down corrupt elite structures, while Clinton was perceived as devoted to their fortification. That is the choice made by Democrats — largely happy with status quo authorities, believing in their basic goodness — and any honest attempt by Democrats to find the prime author of last night’s debacle will begin with a large mirror.

(2) THAT RACISM, MISOGYNY AND XENOPHOBIA ARE PERVASIVE in all sectors of America is indisputable from even a casual glance at its history, both distant and recent. There are reasons why all presidents until 2008 were white and all 45 elected presidents are men. There can be no doubt that those pathologies played a substantial role in last night’s outcome. But that fact answers very few questions, and begs many critical ones.

To begin with, one must confront the fact that not only was Barack Obama elected twice, but is poised to leave office as a highly popular president: now viewed more positively than Reagan. America wasn’t any less racist and xenophobic in 2008 and 2012 than it is now. Even stalwart Democrats fond of casually branding their opponents as bigots are acknowledging that a far more complicated analysis is required to understand last night’s results. As the New York Times’ Nate Cohn put it: “Clinton suffered her biggest losses in the places where Obama was strongest among white voters. It’s not a simple racism story.” Matt Yglesias acknowledged that Obama’s high approval rating is inconsistent with depictions of the U.S. as “county besotted with racism.”

People often talk about “racism/sexism/xenophobia” v. “economic suffering” as if they are totally distinct dichotomies. Of course there are substantial elements of both in Trump’s voting base, but the two categories are inextricably linked: the more economic suffering people endure, the angrier and more bitter they get, the easier it is to direct their anger to scapegoats. Economic suffering often fuels ugly bigotry. It is true that many Trump voters are relatively well-off and that many of the nation’s poorest voted for Clinton, but, as Michael Moore quite presciently warned, those portions of the country that have been most ravaged by free trade orgies and globalism — Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa — were filled with rage and “see [Trump] as a chance to be the human Molotov cocktail that they’d like to throw into the system to blow it up.” Those are the places that were decisive in Trump’s victory. As the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney put it:
It long has been, and still is, a central American challenge to rid its society of these structural inequalities. But one way to ensure those scapegoating dynamics fester rather than erode is to continue to embrace a system that excludes and ignores a large portion of the population. Hillary Clinton was viewed, reasonably, as a stalwart devotee, beloved agent, and prime beneficiary of that system, and thus could not possibly be viewed as a credible actor against it.

(3) OVER THE LAST SIX DECADES, and particularly over the last fifteen years of the endless War on Terror, both political parties have joined to construct a frightening and unprecedentedly invasive and destructive system of authoritarian power, accompanied by the unbridled authority vested in the Executive Branch to use it. As a result, the president of the United States commands a vast nuclear arsenal that can destroy the planet many times over; the deadliest and most expensive military ever developed in human history; legal authorities that allow him to prosecute numerous secret wars at the same time, imprison people with no due process, and to target people (including U.S. citizens) for assassination with no oversight; domestic law enforcement agencies that are constructed to appear and to act as standing, para-militarized armies; a sprawling penal state that allows imprisonment far more easily than most western countries; and a system of electronic surveillance purposely designed to be ubiquitous and limitless, including on U.S. soil.

Those who have been warning of the grave dangers these powers pose have often been dismissed on the ground that the leaders who control this system are benevolent and well-intentioned. They have thus often resorted to the tactic of urging people to imagine what might happen if a president they regarded as less-then-benevolent one day gained control of it. That day has arrived. One hopes that this will at least provide the impetus to unite across ideological and partisan lines to finally impose meaningful limits on these powers that should never have been vested in the first place. That commitment should start now.

* * * * *

For many years, the U.S. — like the U.K. and other western nations — has embarked on a course that virtually guaranteed a collapse of elite authority and internal implosion. From the invasion of Iraq to the 2008 financial crisis to the all-consuming framework of prisons and endless wars, societal benefits have been directed almost exclusively to the very elite institutions most responsible for failure at the expense of everyone else.

It was only a matter of time before instability, backlash and disruption resulted. Both Brexit and Trump unmistakably signal its arrival. The only question is whether those two cataclysmic events will be the peak of this process, or just the beginning. And that, in turn, will be determined by whether their crucial lessons are learned — truly internalized — or ignored in favor of self-exonerating campaigns to blame everyone else.

RELATED

Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions

The Nightmare President
CONTACT THE AUTHOR:
Glenn Greenwald
✉glenn.greenwald@theintercept.com
t@ggreenwald

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THE NIGHTMARE PRESIDENT
Alex Emmons
November 8 2016, 11:39 p.m.
LEIA EM PORTUGUÊS ⟶
DONALD TRUMP SHOCKED everyone but his own supporters Tuesday as his racist, xenophobic, authoritarian, climate-science-denying, misogynistic, “grab-them-by-the-pussy” candidacy somehow carried him to victory.

Larger than expected turnout among rural and working-class white voters led Trump to outperform polling expectations in almost every battleground state, winning Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which, according to the Associated Press, put him over the required 270 electoral votes early Wednesday morning.

The one-time leader of the racist “birther” movement entered the race calling Mexicans “rapists” and repeatedly refusing to condemn white supremacists, and issued policy proposals that seemed unbound by the limits of executive power or basic human decency.

Trump promised to “bomb the shit” out of Middle Eastern countries, kill terrorist’s innocent families, do “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” and suggested that dipping bullets in pigs’ blood may be sound counterterrorism policy.

Trump had a long history of misogyny and belittling women, but after a decade-old tape surfaced of Trump saying he could “grab [women] by the pussy,” and “if you’re a star, they let you do it,” many were horrified, and numerous women came forward with stories of being victimized by Trump. Forecasts predicted Clinton would win in a near landslide.

Trump’s election is a particular nightmare-come-alive for American Muslims, his campaign already having incited hundreds of anti-Muslim hate crimes and started a new wave of anti-Muslim bullying in schools. Trump’s promises to spy on mosques and ban Muslims from entering the country have electrified his base, and served as consistent applause lines throughout his campaign. Trump’s circle of advisors, surrogates, and political allies include people who brag about spying on mosques and call for “sharia tests” of all American Muslims, under penalty of deportation. General Michael Flynn, a top national security adviser to Donald Trump and possible Defense Secretary, has tweeted that “fear of muslims is rational.”

Wide open questions remain as to how Trump would staff his administration, or govern. Trump has flip flopped on hundreds of policy positions, and despite his promise to break the control of Washington by political insiders, his transition team is full of corporate lobbyists and Republican power brokers.

Two places he’s been consistent: His convictions to build a wall on the southern border, and to stand by police when they kill unarmed black men.

Political scientists, pollsters and pundits will likely debate for many years how media elites could have been so wrong in predicting an overwhelming Clinton victory. But in the short term, many communities, from undocumented immigrants to Muslims, suddenly face grave concerns for their rights and security.

 

 

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