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Forum Post: Democrats, Trump, and the Ongoing, Dangerous Refusal to Learn the Lesson of Brexit By Glenn Greenwald

Posted 5 months ago on Nov. 13, 2016, 9:52 a.m. EST by flip (7101)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

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) that 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 principal 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 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 manage it more efficiently. 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.

  1. 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 have been 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 he 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’s 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 a country “besotted with racism.”

People often talk about “racism/sexism/xenophobia” vs. “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 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: Low-income rural white voters in Pa. voted for Obama in 2008 and then Trump in 2016, and your explanation is white supremacy? Interesting.

It has long been, and still is, a central American challenge to rid 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.

  1. Over the last six decades, and particularly over the last 15 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 target people (including U.S. citizens) for assassination with no oversight; domestic law enforcement agencies that are constructed to appear and 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 than benevolent one day gained control of it. That day has arrived. One hopes 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.

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[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 4 months ago

''The media landscape in America is dominated by “fake news.” It has been for decades. This fake news does not emanate from the Kremlin. It is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry that is skillfully designed and managed by public relations agencies, publicists and communications departments on behalf of individuals, government and corporations to manipulate public opinion. This propaganda industry stages pseudo-events to shape our perception of reality. The public is so awash in these lies, delivered 24 hours a day through electronic devices and print, that viewers and readers can no longer distinguish between truth and fiction.

''Donald Trump and the racist-conspiracy theorists, generals and billionaires around him inherited and exploited this condition, just as they have inherited and will exploit the destruction of civil liberties and collapse of democratic institutions. Trump did not create this political, moral and intellectual vacuum. It created him. It created a world where fact is interchangeable with opinion, where celebrities have huge megaphones simply because they are celebrities, where information must be entertaining and where we can all believe what we want to believe regardless of truth. A demagogue like Trump is what you get when you turn culture and the press into burlesque.

''Journalists long ago gave up trying to describe an objective world or give a voice to ordinary men and women. They became conditioned to cater to corporate demands. News personalities, who often make millions of dollars a year, became courtiers. They peddle gossip. They promote consumerism and imperialism. They chatter endlessly about polls, strategies, presentation and tactics or play guessing games about upcoming presidential appointments. They fill news holes with trivial, emotionally driven stories that make us feel good about ourselves. They are incapable of genuine reporting. They rely on professional propagandists to frame all discussion and debate.

''There are established journalists who have spent their entire careers repackaging press releases or attending official briefings or press conferences—I knew several when I was with The New York Times. They work as stenographers to the powerful. Many such reporters are highly esteemed in the profession.

''The corporations that own media outlets, unlike the old newspaper empires, view news as simply another revenue stream. Revenue streams compete inside a corporation. When the news division does not make what is seen as enough profit, the ax comes down. Content is irrelevant. The courtiers in the press, beholden to their corporate overlords, cling ferociously to their privileged and well-compensated perches. Because they slavishly serve the interests of corporate power, they are hated by America’s workers, whom they have rendered invisible. They deserve the hate they get.

''A populace divorced from print and bombarded by discordant and random images is robbed of the vocabulary as well as the historical and cultural context to articulate reality. Illusion is truth. A whirlwind of emotionally driven cant feeds our historical amnesia.

''Trump is adept at communicating through image, sound bites and spectacle. Fake news, which already dominates print and television reporting, will define the media under his administration. Those who call out the mendacity of fake news will be vilified and banished. The corporate state created this monstrous propaganda machine and bequeathed it to Trump. He will use it.''

Excerpted from ...

fiat lux ...

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 5 months ago

''Bernie Sanders: Where the Democrats Go From Here?''

'' .. Donald J. Trump won the White House because his campaign rhetoric successfully tapped into a very real and justified anger, an anger that many traditional Democrats feel.

''I am saddened, but not surprised, by the outcome. It is no shock to me that millions of people who voted for Mr. Trump did so because they are sick and tired of the economic, political and media status quo.

''Working families watch as politicians get campaign financial support from billionaires and corporate interests — and then ignore the needs of ordinary Americans. Over the last 30 years, too many Americans were sold out by their corporate bosses. They work longer hours for lower wages as they see decent paying jobs go to China, Mexico or some other low-wage country. They are tired of having chief executives make 300 times what they do, while 52 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent. Many of their once beautiful rural towns have depopulated, their downtown stores are shuttered, and their kids are leaving home because there are no jobs — all while corporations suck the wealth out of their communities and stuff them into offshore accounts.

''Working Americans can’t afford decent, quality child care for their children. They can’t send their kids to college, and they have nothing in the bank as they head into retirement. In many parts of the country they can’t find affordable housing, and they find the cost of health insurance much too high. Too many families exist in despair as drugs, alcohol and suicide cut life short for a growing number of people.

''When my presidential campaign came to an end, I pledged to my supporters that the political revolution would continue. And now, more than ever, that must happen. We are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. When we stand together and don’t let demagogues divide us up by race, gender or national origin, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. We must go forward, not backward.''


I've cherry picked the article & there's more to read & possibly criticize in it, so it's worth a read. As is...

hmmmmmm ...

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (22711) 5 months ago

Yanis Varoufakis is hopeful that a revolution is now possible:

Read his trenchant analysis of the election here:

https://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2016/11/15/new-statesman-interview-the-lefts-duty-after-trumps-awful-victory/#more-15998

Here's a little from it:

"Why did Hillary Clinton’s campaign end in failure?

Clinton’s loss was caused by her failure to address the collapse of the economic status quo. A global epoch has ended. The period which began with the 1944 Bretton Woods conference, [convened to regulate the post Second World War monetary order], ended with the 2008 financial crash. US hegemony expanded in this era but it was the first time that a superpower got stronger by getting more into debt. The US resembled a huge vacuum cleaner sucking up the net exports of Germany, Holland, Japan and later China. It was increasing its deficit to those economies while, in a Keynesian way, aggregating demand for the global economy. The majority of profits from these Dutch, Japanese and Chinese companies were invested back into Wall Street. In 2008, this system collapsed and with it went the myth of globalisation. Obama promised to address this but he failed miserably in part because he lost control of congress. Today, 81% of US families are worse off than they were in 2004 — the median wages of most US workers has not peaked since 1973. Trump said this couldn’t go on, while Clinton offered continuity — that’s why she failed."

"How much was it Obama’s fault?

He should take a huge amount of responsibility for this defeat. Obama had a window of opportunity when he was first elected in 2008. He was a highly popular president, with control of the senate, who came to power when Wall Street had collapsed and the banking community was in tatters. He had a real chance to establish a New Deal programme just as Franklin D. Roosevelt did in the Thirties. Instead, he employed Larry Summers and Tim Geithner as his economic advisers — the gravediggers of the New Deal institutions. They both served in the Clinton administration which dismantled the last checks and balances on Wall Street, including rendering the Glass-Steagall Act obsolete in 1996. So, those responsible for allowing Wall Street to run riot were brought in to fix the mess. Predictably, all they did was reinstate the privilege of the financial class."

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 5 months ago

Prof. Yanis Varoufakis is so on the ball, that he may have been a sea-lion in a past life! I hope readers read your link & in compliment .. consider this item from a rather unlikely source perhaps:

multum in parvo ...

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (22711) 4 months ago

Consider Trump's cabinet selections so far & what would Varoufakis have to say about it?

TREASURY: "Trump Picks Foreclosure King Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary"

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/29/trump-picks-foreclosure-king-mnuchin-for-treasury-secretary.html

EPA: "EPA fears 'unprecedented disaster' for environment over Scott Pruitt pick"

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/08/epa-scott-pruitt-disaster-environment-senate-democrats

EDUCATION: "Betsy DeVos: Secretary Of Privatization"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danielkatz/betsy-devos-secretary-of-_b_13303980.html

HUD: Ben Carson, need I say more?

COMMERCE: "Meet Wilbur Ross, who once bailed out Trump in Atlantic City and is now his pick for Commerce secretary"

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-wilbur-ross-commerce-20161208-story.html

DEFENSE: "Trump 'surprised' by Mattis waterboarding comments"

http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/23/politics/waterboarding-trump-mattis/

LABOR: "Angered at talk of raising the minimum wage, Carl's Jr. CEO (Puzdner) intends on replacing human workers with machines."

http://www.politicususa.com/2016/03/20/ceo-replace-workers-machines-talk-minimum-wage-hike.html

TRANSPORTATION: "President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the sprawling Transportation Department made $1.2 million while overseeing Wells Fargo as a director during the period the bank has admitted to creating millions of fake accounts."

http://money.cnn.com/2016/12/07/investing/elaine-chao-trump-wells-fargo-transportation/

And, that's not even the whole shameful list. American people who woke up during the primary with Bernie better stay woke and get active.

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 4 months ago

Excellent & very important information!!! That took a while to collate, for sure!! Many thanx bw! + fyi:

e tenebris, lux?

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 5 months ago

Consider that - ''Democrats have already begun flailing around trying to blame anyone and everyone they can find — everyone except themselves ..." !

And ''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." !!

''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 than benevolent one day gained control of it. That day has arrived." !!!

Great forum post flip. Solidarity & in compliment ...

''Widespread social unrest will ignite when Donald Trump’s base realizes it has been betrayed."

ad iudicium ...

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 5 months ago

gotta like glen

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 3 months ago

''As Democrats Press for War, the Left Must Demand Peace and Social Transformation'' by (a different) Glen, namely - Ford:

This is a really excellent piece, which ends: ''There is no mystery to what the moment demands. What’s needed is Left movements for social transformation, not a farcical, Democrat-led anti-Trump pseudo-movement, whose real agenda is war.''

fiat lux et fiat pax ...

[-] 1 points by ImNotMe (1488) 5 months ago

Yep & https://theintercept.com/ is where GG does his thing these days.

fiat lux ...