"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Radical Populism, And The Decline Of Democratic Liberalism–A Post-Election Scenario

As of this writing (10.23.16) it seems likely that Hillary Clinton will be elected President of the United States; but this in no way means that Donald Trump or his radical populism will disappear.  On the contrary, it will grow.  The anger, resentment, and frustration of the electorate with the Washington establishment and the collusion, corruption, manipulation, and arrogation of power it has come to represent are too virulent to fade away after November 8th.  In fact it is more likely that the movement will coalesce, be strengthened by a new Tea Party-like coalition in both House and Senate, and energized by Trump himself who, on a new media platform (his proposed new network), will be as outrageously honest as he has been during the campaign.

This emergence of a disaffected electorate in the United States is not new and parallels the rise of Putin and Neo-Imperial Russia, authoritarian but hyper-productive China, Duterte and the popular acclaim for extra-judicial governance, the rise of Muslim separatism and Islamic orthodoxy, and the ascendency of the Right in Europe.


Traditional liberal democracy is being questioned more than ever not only in the Middle East where God, not the State, is considered the final arbiter of all things spiritual and secular but in Russia and China whose leaders refuse to compromise their autocratic rule for the sake of democratic traditions.

Since Deng Xiaoping opened China to the world economy and geopolitical arena, the country has grown rapidly.  GDP growth has been in the double digits for more than a decade, and tens of millions of Chinese have been raised out of poverty.  This accelerated economic growth and concomitant political power have come at what the West considers an unacceptable price – inflexible restrictions of civil liberties.  Yet China has refused to capitulate to demands for reform and in no way wants the divisive, corrosive, democratic chaos of today’s America.  Socio-economic development is too important, Chinese officials state, for political debate and ethnic separatism to get in the way.


Vladimir Putin has rejected the concept of the nation-state and is redrawing old boundaries according to the demands of Russian ethnic nationalism.  Putin has annexed Crimea and maintains de facto control of Eastern Ukraine.  He has made his intentions perfectly clear – to reconstitute a strong, ethnically united, militarily and economically powerful Russia which rejects integration within Europe or a peaceful and complaisant relationship with the West.

President Duterte in the Philippines has rejected the United States’ call for moderation and respect for the rule of law and continued his extrajudicial war against drug trafficking.  As a result he has an approval rating of over 80 percent.  His forthrightness, political honesty, and commitment to radical reform are applauded.  The ends justify the means.

Right-wing parties are in their ascendancy in Europe after repeated terrorist attacks and a flood of Muslim migrants.  France, always a champion of the rights of man, secularism, and justice has imposed an extended state of emergency, a measure close to martial law.  Individual rights are abrogated in a campaign to expunge all traces of foreign and native-born terrorism.  It has become more defiant than ever concerning secularism, forcing increasingly fundamentalist Muslim communities to abandon certain religious expressions and practices.  Scandinavia, once considered the model of European socialism and equality, has turned its back on this storied past and found multiculturalism corrosive and dangerous.

Only America persists in its commitment to progressivism and the role of the state in mitigating if not resolving social problems and promoting economic growth.  Yet because of the growth of radical liberalism and the multiculturalism which it has spawned, the country is more divided than it ever was.   Identity politics have separated racial, ethnic, and gender groups and delayed or even deterred national integration and social harmony.  America is no longer a country which welcomes immigrants as long as they assimilate but one which celebrates their differences.  This spirit extends to native minorities, especially African Americans who are encouraged to speak as an oppressed group with special privileges rather than one whose separatism is discouraged.

Universities have ceded their responsibility to educate at all costs and have become political side shows where learning has taken a back seat to espousal and promotion of progressive causes.   This political correctness has infected all area of American society and in its deliberate closing of the American mind has fueled anger, resentment, and frustration as well as promoted divisiveness.

The Supreme Court has become increasingly activist and has ruled on issues which should more rightly be left to the electorate.  There is no justification for continued judicial support for universal abortion when a significant number of Americans oppose it.  Likewise, there is no reason why the Court should interfere with majority views on traditional marriage or religious rights.

Trump has been openly and avowedly antagonistic to all the above.  He sees the Washington cabals as destructive, self-serving, self-perpetuating destroyers of America.  He calls out their arrogance, sanctimony, and self-righteousness.  He blames the liberal Left for imposing social judgments on millions of citizens who have not yet sorted through issues of abortion, gay marriage, and religious rights. 

He excoriates progressives for their dogged advocacy of social programs which after decades of support and billions in taxpayer investment show little or no results.  He is incensed that the mainstream media with few exceptions are unashamedly staffed by liberal staffers, editors, and publishers.  Even the traditional conservative media have ignored the populist sentiments of his followers.

He refuses to accept the conciliatory approach of the Left, fueled by multiculturalism, to immigration.  He understands that many if not most Americans feel threatened by what they see is unfettered access to the country.

The election for all intents and purposes is a fait accompli.  No matter what Wikileaks may reveal over the coming two weeks, there is no time for the legislative or judicial processes  to indict Hillary Clinton.  She will be elected as one of the most unpopular presidential candidates in American history – largely because much of the country is unprepared for or harshly antagonistic to Trump’s radical populism and his outsized personality.

The movement, however, will not disappear.  A hopeful if not likely short-term scenario is the following:
1. The House and the Senate remain Republican, and a significant minority of those elected come from Trump districts.
2. This new coalition can be as effective as the Tea Party in promoting a radical agenda that will satisfy Trump supporters and those who will join the populist movement.
3. Trump will start up a new network which will in theme, content, format, and personality reflect the same sentiments that have been so angrily expressed during the election.
4. As a result of the above, local Trump supporters will be more open about their radical conservatism and an energized, activist base will be formed.  A an organized grass-roots movement will replace individual expression, and as the movement becomes institutionalized, it will gain influence in statehouses and Washington.
5. The new appointments to the Supreme Court may not be as radical as they would be under a Trump presidency, but will far more moderate than the liberals currently serving on the bench. 
In the longer run, the Clinton presidency will not last more than one term and a radical populist president will be elected.  If the above five-point scenario comes even close to reality, the new president will have unequalled support from the country.  Although he may not take the same authoritarian measures as his international counterparts – Putin, Duterte, Xi Jinping, Sissi, Netanyahu, and Le Pen (and, like it or not, Assad, the Ayatollah, and al-Baghdadi) – he will begin the process of reforming government but much more importantly, governance.

Trump has been good for America.  A cleaning of the Augean stables was long overdue.  The Washington Establishment was getting  inbred if not incestuous and the lines been big money, big government, big media, and big industry were being blurred.  The arrogance and sanctimony of all these sectors was becoming insulting and intolerable.  Although Trump himself might not have made an ideal president – the country is not yet ready for a Duterte – the revolution he inspired and supported is underway.


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