Doctor and activist

Power in America

11 August 2023

A provocative article argues that the US is abandoning its tradition Blue (Democrat) v. Red (Republican), and instead voting on economic lines, with the Red which were traditionally seen as the party of the rich actually getting the poor vote.

The polling shows that the Republicans are ahead in the poorer states, and the Demicrats in the wealthier and better educated states.  This is against what was assumed to be the normal situation.

Why could this be. The Democrats are in control and supported the status quo, when they rigged their last candidate, making sure that Bernie Sanders lost preselection- twice. He would almost certainly have beaten Hilary Clinton and then probably Trump, as he called for change in the same way that Trump did. He may then have beaten Biden, but the Democrat establishment put up Biden, who was effectively the status quo.

Trump’s policies, if they can be called such, seemed mainly to tell the Establishment to go to hell and promise to send it there. It was populist nonsense in that no serious policies underwrote it in terms of real benefits to poorer people.  But if you think that governments are voted out, rather than oppositions being voted in, Trump’s demagoguery has a certain logic.

Trump is, to many people inside and outside the USA, a proven crook, and many US Democrats hope that the legal process will make him ineligible to stand again, assuming he wins the Republican nomination, which looks likely. One might even wonder if there would be revolutionary forces who might try to rescue him from goal. If they can storm Congress, why not a gaol?

The fact that the Republicans can have a majority in poorer areas, despite having an anti-welfare agenda seems to show the pre-eminence of populism, the Democrats being the Established Order. The fact that Biden is the figurehead, and the Democrats seem unable to find anyone to replace him is a worry. The Republicans will target his health if he stands again. The Democrats will say that he is very healthy, and the rest of us will cross our fingers and hope his cerebral arteries last until the election at least.

The middle class is hollowed out and it is the 1% v the 99%. This is what Marx predicted, but more this is the logic of every Monopoly game- in an unregulated market the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  We have been playing Monopoly since the end of WW2 and small government and deregulation has been the dominant neo-liberal paradigm.

What happens in the US will hugely affect the world, both directly, but also in the way it sets trends. It is not even a new trend. Populist right wing governments are rising in many countries, Poland, Italy, Hungary, India and Turkey. France and Germany have seen a strengthening of the Right. Military dictators have seized power in a number of African states.  There does not seem much evidence that these populist strong men have made much progress in solving the problems that led to their rise to power, but having a real argument about this statement would require a lot of research.

But the US is in real trouble, and the lack of discussion of the rising inequality and what is to be done about it may well be at the core of the problem.

Arthur Chesterfield-Evans

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