THE SATURDAY ESSAY: In a year full of Black Swan potential, the choice may yet prove to be between Trump and Sanders

trumpsanders

As always, it’s all about choice. So who are you for – Fox or Trump? It’s a toughie, but some Devil in me is getting off on the fact that, no matter how outrageous Donald Clump is – and no matter what vilification he gets in return from the media Establishment – his ratings just keep on climbing.

The right-on-message US media love to portray Trump as a simpleton, but in truth he is a symptom. The malady is alienation, and in most Anglo-Saxon cultures now, I would estimate that a good 40-45% of adults suffer from it. There is too, I know, a very strong correlation between feeling alienated and not voting. And in a spooky way – although Donald Plump personifies the unbalanced, needy and privilege-seeking greed that is slowly eroding Western culture – he is getting widespread respect purely by having the balls to give selfstyled ‘progressives’ a good thrashing on a daily basis. This is something they’ve been short of for a long time, and I am enjoying the spectacle immensely: not because I sympathise with his rabble-rousing, but because the innate and insouciant fasism of pc has grown, is growing, and ought to be diminished.

It’s just a shame that Grump had to be the one sticking a truculent finger up Murdoch’s unpleasant hooter. Because he makes it easy for the unthinking, knee-jerk liberal fraternity to demonise him as this sort of thowback gargoyle elephant of bigotry. However, although Trump may be elephantine in build (the description goes rather well with his surname, and the GOP logo is an elephant) he most certainly is not the elephant in the room: about as discreet as a Dayglo dirigible, when you walk into this elephant’s room, there is an immediate and deafening Trump. And if that doesn’t get your attention, he’s quite likely to become Donald Dump….right on your head.

This somewhat buffoonish, ‘common-man’ bluntness puts one in mind of our own Boris Johnson, but whereas Trump seems to relish going Over the Top, BoJo is far more cunning in public (abeit crooked, greedy and violent in private) and therefore considerably more dangerous. However, Johnson operates in an English culture, and Donald Trump doesn’t. I have to say, I feel that many of the Americans writing Trump off are the same people who think Recovery is just around the corner. They are wrong on both counts.

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Mr Thump is one of those unadvertised trains that somehow seem to turn up just when contemporary history and angst conspire to oil their ageing wheels. The Republican Party is a mess of Blues that has spent eight years failing to land a single telling punch on one of the most ineffectual and content-free Presidents in US history. There is nobody with even the remotest resemblance to a hero in the GOP’s own midst; those that have come forward seem formulaic (Cruz) or dynastic (Bush).

Thus, as Hillary Clinton began to distance herself from Obaman foreign policy two years ago (while retaining exactly the same ideas) it looked to most of us like she would have a clear run at the White House. An influential member of a successful political family with vast experience of government at the sharp end – and, as a woman, someone whose time had perhaps come – she looked unbeatable.

Not any more. As pauperisation among black and blue-collar Democrats has taken hold (and the more prosperous ‘middle’ class has come to suspect the reality of this golden economic future being spun at them) Bernie Sanders has emerged as someone quite capable of moving from the fringe outside lane to being an inside-track Decency candidate with real pulling power. Three weeks ago in Iowa he was 12 points adrift of Clinton; now he is 8 points clear. Under two days from the poll itself, he finds himself the hot favourite.

In short, a Richter 9 earthquake has destroyed Hillary’s freeway – and moved a mountain out of Trump’s way.

Today, whichever way you look at it, he is far and away favourite for the Republican nomination. But the Party bigwigs find it impossible to embrace him. At the minute, their main gripe is that he isn’t adding any value to the GOP’s appeal – specifically, they say he won’t attract the alienated white and jobless abstainer they need to win. As time goes on, this argument is looking wafer-thin: as Chris Sillizza writes at The Washington Post, ‘….based on polling data, Donald Trump is in as strong a position to get his party’s nomination as Hillary Clinton in 2016, George W. Bush in 2000, or Al Gore in 2000….Barring some sort of massive flub or campaign catastrophe — and it’s hard to imagine what would even fit that description when it comes to Trump — The Donald will be in the mix when the nomination gets decided.’

Further, I disagree with the idea that he can’t get abstainers to the booths: as both successful businessman and populist rhetoritician, if and when the reality of global slump comes to light, Trump the Stump could be exactly the inspiration they crave. Finally, as time goes on I suspect even the Convention movers and shakers will be forced to examine their position up-close, and ask themselves, “What’s the alternative”.

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Naysayers will of course argue that, against Hillary, he will lack any credibility: that in an open Presidential Election, Clinton’s tough past on foreign policy will make it easy for Republican voters to cross Party lines and choose her as ‘safe and sound’: if you like, the triumph of Frump over Trump.

On balance, I think that is indeed a strong argument. But even here, there are two counter-arguments. First, Trump is a billionaire whose only possible saving grace is that he has the level of egomania and clout required to say “Shove it” to Wall Street. Were he smart enough to leverage and popularise that position – and cast the once Obamite Hillary as just another Democrat collaborator – then his appeal in a context of economic angst and resentment could be huge. Were I American, shame on me perhaps, even I woud be tempted to Plump for Trump in a Slump.

Second, who is any longer so sure that Clinton is a shoo-in as the nominee? The recent opinion-leader poll by Cleveland.com suggested these six possibilities must turn into eventualities in order for Bernie Sanders to get the nomination:

  1. A strong showing in Iowa and New Hampshire: Winning or finishing a close second could spark a media frenzy for Sanders.
  2. A tarnished Hillary Clinton: To win, Bernie needs Hillary’s campaign to tank.
  3. Support from minorities: Sanders has struggled to win the black and Latino support he needs to stay competitive in the long term.
  4. Democratic superdelegates: Clinton has a dominating lead when it comes to the unelected delegates who hold about 30 percent of the votes needed to win the nomination.
  5. Turning enthusiasm into votes: Sanders needs to expand his get-out-the-vote campaign. Also, could one of his main campaign issues prove to be a liability?
  6. A “black swan” election: Will voter anger this year prove political forecasters wrong?

It looks formidable, and yet it isn’t. Sanders will probably take Iowa, and is already ahead in New Hampshire. The second is an unknown quantity in which Bernie himself could wind up being the catalyst: success, as they say, breeds success. Perhaps Sanders is a tad too Ivy League for the core black/hispanic vote….but Iowa has more than its fair share of that franchise, and so far they are for Bernie, not Hillary. Again, as the more openly anti neoliberal of the two candidates, any and all economic scares will help the outsider. It’s true that Hillary already has probably around 60% of the Convention votes required “sewn up” – she is very much the Establishment candidate. But such support can come apart at the seams in the face of economic change and proven vote-winning capability from a rival. And as for turning enthusiasm into votes and Black Swan possibilities, well – that’s my core contention: my guess is it is more probability than possibility.

Meanwhile, back on Planet Trump, anything from a crippled Clinton campaign through to a surging Sanders bandwagon is going to evoke, I would suggest, a dramatic change of heart among the GOP convention. I could sum this up as, “Sheeeyit fellas….with Donald, we can take this guy”. The advertising power of Republican money could easily balance the anti-Trump editorial bias once the main Presidential campaign gets under way. One can almost hear the doom-laden commercial’s voice-over: “When every economic certainty is gone, who would you want in the White House….a proven entrepreur or an intellectual radical? Don’t be a Chump, vote Trump”.

Further, while one would expect Obama to endorse Clinton, could he offer the same level of support for a bloke who – by definition – was likely to criticise his two-term collaboration with Wall Street?

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It is, I wrote ironically at the start of this essay, all about choice. If there has been one major political trend in the last few years, then it is a growing – and accelerating – awareness of the fact that old ideologies aren’t working, creaking Establishments offer little in the way of creative solutions, and existing electoral formulae provide power and wealth for the few, but not relief for the many.

The biggest single factor impinging upon this mass change of heart is the utter failure of almost all institutions – bourses, central banks, economic models and legislatures – to square a tightening circle: that between unsustainable debt and unachievable growth.

Once debt liquidity runs out, élite options close down and the mass cannot consume. And once growth falters in the face of that, then capitalisation shrinks, investment stops,  banks fail, governments fall and radicalism prospers.

Because Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, electorates vote for Black Swans. Timing is everything, but the era of Black Swans is almost upon us. Do not rule anything out.

Connected at The Slog: How the Truth is seeping out

32 thoughts on “THE SATURDAY ESSAY: In a year full of Black Swan potential, the choice may yet prove to be between Trump and Sanders

  1. I never liked Trump because of his hair style…but now, after all this MSM stuff and your post, I had an epiphany. We live outside the truth Matrix, therefore, many generations have passed where people don’t know what the truth is anymore yet when confronted with it behaviour in a very bad manner or reaction. I think that truth is what turns something ugly, when we are confronted with truth, we automatically react to it subconsciously because it DOES resonate but because of our warped belief systems we are not able to manifest it in our bodies. Trump is one ugly m…f…but you know, he’s telling it like it is and American’s don’t like it but I see that slowly he is gaining ground because those truths that were at first hard to accept are slowly sinking in. Just the lies. If you tell a lie enough times you will start believing it…if Trump speaks truth enough times it does eventually sink in and at worse, get you thinking about WHAT he said.
    Personally, although I live in Croatia, I prefer Trump over any of them. Why? Because I can’t stand the ideology of being politically correct. Say it like it is and if you don’t like it, tough shit.

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  2. I’m reading that the american people hate government more than ever today. That Donald Trump is the only politician NOT in the bankers’ pockets, and that if he wins Iowa he will meet every resistance possible from both sides of the House to STOP him becoming president.
    I couldn’t foresee his victory, but I think he’s MY favourite to win.

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  3. The US will remain a plutocracy whoever wins the theatrical farce of their election process. I cannot shake the suspicion that Trump is actually running on behalf of Hilary. He announced his candidacy around the same time that questions about Hilary and the Clinton Foundation and Hilary’s use of a private insecure server for Top Secret emails were becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. Trump’s populist antics were immediately given blanket coverage on the MSM and pushed Hilary stories into the background. Perhaps that is a conspiracy too far, but stranger things have happened.

    Although I may sometimes allow myself the fantasy that an elected Trump would opposed the Neocon stranglehold on State Department policy, his recent meeting with billionaire Adelson, (who believes that AIPAC is too left-wing apparently), has torpedoed such hope. Trump will be another false hope for the U.S. citizen, just like hopey and changey. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

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  4. America is a strange place, I have always felt that they like the little guy to be plucky, but they only ever want the Big guy to win. Because they ‘like winners’ I suppose.
    Maybe it makes them feel safe. No matter if Big is their enemy, Big will look after the bigger picture or just leave them alone.
    But now, it seems that many citizens have woken up to the fact that Big has been stealing from them and oppressing them; that Big does not have the little guy’s interests at heart -ever. Big is now the Banks, the Lawyers, the Politicians, and the Media, all in it together.
    Maybe the little guy always hoped there was a tiny chance that he could succeed and become a big guy, or at least a bigger guy. No longer, it seems.

    Sanders and Trump, and before them Ron Paul (who got to the Republican Convention ready to win the ticket in 2016 before the old dinosaurs tore up the rule book and crushed him.) This is something new.
    It helps however, that Mrs Clinton is such an awful person. The Big Guys should have done themselves a favour by throwing her out of the fold when she resigned from O’Bammer’s first administration.

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  5. Black Swans indeed. Hillary could just be headed for the Big House rather than the While House.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-01-29/indictment-looms-fbi-declares-22-clinton-emails-top-secret

    She is guilty without doubt. The question will be whether the White House allows an indictment to proceed. Obama will decide this one what is best for his legacy. He could decide to dump Hillary. There is no love lost there abd bring old Joe Biden back into the race. He would win the blue collar vote and romp home.

    The other Black swan is a Bloomberg candidacy. He might come in as an independent if the contest were Sanders vs Trump. He could outspend them all but it would allow Sanders in just as ole Bill beat Bush411 in 92 with the help of Ross Perot.

    I have followed US presidential elections since 52 when Ike beat Adlai Steveson. it’s all been downhill since then!

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  6. @OAH

    I‘ll believe it when I see it. Clinton’s sponsors are extremely powerful, and have invested too much to allow their minions in the FBI to shoot their fox.

    Just a reminder of the psychopath/sociopath the U.S. people may have foistered upon them by their unaccountable elites.

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  7. Personally, I’m supporting Trump paraphrasing the words of Sen Roman Hruska of Nebraska over Nixon’s choice of Carswell for the Supreme Court. ‘He may be an idiot (medicocre) but there are a lot of idiots (mediocre people) in this country and they deserve representation in the White House (Supreme Court).’

    They’ve tried Generals, Politicians (LBJ, Nixon), peanut farmers, actors, preppies, hill billies, morons (Bush43) and Black Muslims and nothing works. So maybe it’s an idiots turn. Perhaps they would be an idiot savant.

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  8. @OAH

    As the late, great George Carlin put it… “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”

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  9. @Canexpat: I stumbled upon that video jus six months ago and was very nearly physically sick. Hilary Clinton is indeed a monstrous psychopath/sociopath.

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  10. If you are confronted with an obstructive object, if you can set up small vibrations, that build into large vibrations, it’s possible to destroy, said object. Left, right, left, right, left, right. Voters don’t like what they have, and Trump is but one choice. Corbyn, Farage Le penn, Syriza etc. Spot what voters are unconsciously trying to do? Left right left right left right.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. maybe hillary gets the big heave ho when biden doesn’t have to face the electorate, at the convention he will be a sudden replacement shoe-in yesman. then its goodbye bernie even though everyone unaligned would have voted for him… thats about how much the democrats love democracy… like most politicians they will prefer their own fix…

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  12. An example of the teflon nature of the Clinton organisation dating back to around 1999… She even appointed the judge that officiated at the civil trial of her own fundraiser!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. First I was afraid, I was petrified.

    Then I stumbled across this Archdruid blopost which has the same analysis as our JW, only more so.
    In addition, Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) has a blog where he is analysing the Trump’s moves and is very impressed. He is predicting a Trump landslide, assuming the Koch brothers don’t find a ‘magic bullet’.
    Of all the Republican candidates I feel he is the least likely to kick off WWIII – seriously, it would be bad for business.

    As regards Hilary, she is done – the emails thing won’t go away, Obama will not endorse her (he hates the Clintons by all accounts) and Bernie looks to be on a roll for many of the same reasons as Trump.

    I am reminded of the words of George Carlin:

    “If you are born into this world, you get a ticket to the freak show.
    If you are born in America, you got a front row seat”.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. There is an aspect about politics in the US that might be helpful. Nothing matters except the television coverage to the people that get revenues from television. The folks that want change aren’t a part of the TV show and their interests are not important to the producers of the show. Dr. Schwump appeals to anger and inspires meanness and only understands black and white decisions that have to be made now, without a conversation, without facts, without the uncomfortable guise of reality. Clinton attracts the politically correct and those that know she can be bought. Neither are a majority now that we appear to have a choice. It is causing consternation among the rentiers.
    I know we appear to be quite strange to others in the world, and rightly so. But Sanders is what most adults miss, another adult in the room. Someone that appears to understand them, and whose record supports that conclusion. Something unique since Kennedy, Reagan or Carter, real support by the people for serious change. Something that the tv talk show can’t hide or reduce to infantilism.
    The majority in this nation are far more likely to vote for reason than farce. Don’t take us on what the television says, we corrupted the airwaves before any other country thought about it, and it remains in ruin.
    The biggest problem is that our elections are fixed by political machine, and the computer. A majority will question the results this time, and the result will surprise us all.

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  15. The fact that both the mainstream media and the American establishment seem desperate for Trump not be President suggests he fits the bill perfectly.
    It won’t really be a black swan moment – what’s actually happened is that the mainstream media have lost control of the agenda and are so used to peddling propaganda for the government that they are caught out on every issue, whether it’s on politics or the economy.

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  16. He’s an a### but he’s the over-due backlash against the Democrats’ attempt to use Latino immigration to engineer permanent majorities (at the same time as giving big business a hugely expanded labour supply [which the Left ignores]). Just as Labour thought it could do the same in the UK.

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  17. Globalisation hasn’t just been about economics and the enrichment of the 1%; it has been about a global attack on national cultures and norms in the service of that 1% which wants a flat earth with no funny ideas about local variations getting in the way of megalithic trading conglomerates.

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  18. Behind every voting machine lever is: The Emporer Diocletian.

    Need a rapid and effective emetic ?

    Read the Stewed Pork Crimes endorsements today.

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  19. The fact that Trump has moved the needle on illegal immigration toward a more restrictive policy no matter who wins this fall is a positive development.

    Shutting down Murdock was nice as well.

    He’s still a jerk.

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  20. @Brian spot on – Bernie Sanders “a real adult”. You obviously have to be 72 years old or whatever to qualify these days.

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  21. @Domestic Extremist

    Thanks for linking to such a superb analysis of Trump’s appeal. The Archdruid’s report has earned a place in my favourites. I have always been slightly confused by North America’s definition of the Middle Class. I think the Archdruid is defining the U.S. middle class as the wage earners as opposed to the salary earners.

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  22. @Canexpat.
    Thanks, I found it by accident, but it was a real eye opener.

    The ‘key’ to the four classes are here:

    Broadly speaking—there are exceptions, which I’ll get to in a moment—it’s from one of four sources: returns on investment, a monthly salary, an hourly wage, or a government welfare check. People who get most of their income from one of those four things have a great many interests in common, so much so that it’s meaningful to speak of the American people as divided into an investment class, a salary class, a wage class, and a welfare class.

    I missed it first time around too and got confused.

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