Tuesday, December 22, 2015

From the Atlantic: The Great Republican Revolt — Middle Class Who???

If Donald J. Trump Doesn't Know, Who Does
(certainly not his misguided base)

The Great Vanishing (already vanished) Middle Class
(Trump's Base)


From this excellent The Atlantic article — a great read.

The article title: The Great Republican Revolt

The GOP planned a dynastic restoration in 2016. Instead, it triggered an internal class war. Can the party reconcile the demands of its donors with the interests of its rank and file?

The angriest and most pessimistic people in America aren’t the hipster protesters who flitted in and out of Occupy Wall Street. They aren’t the hashtavists of #Black Lives Matter. They aren’t the remnants of the American labor movement or the savvy young dreamers who confront politicians with their American accents and un-American legal status.

The angriest and most pessimistic people in America are people we used to call Middle Class Americans. They were middle-class and middle-aged; not rich and not poor; people who are irked when asked to Press 1 for English, and who wonder how white male became an accusation rather than a description.

You can measure their pessimism in polls that ask about their expectations for their lives — and for those of their children. On both counts, whites without a college degree express the bleakest view. You can see the effects of their despair in the new statistics describing horrifying rates of suicide and substance-abuse fatality among this same group, in middle age.  

White Middle Americans express heavy mistrust of every institution in American society: not only government, but corporations, unions, even the political party they typically vote for — the GOP of Romney, Ryan, and McConnell, which they despise as a sad crew of weaklings and sellouts. They are pissed off. And when Donald Trump came along, they were the people who told the pollsters, “That’s my guy.”

They aren’t necessarily super-conservative. They often don’t think in ideological terms at all. But they do strongly feel that life in this country used to be better for people like them — and they want that older country back.

You hear from people like them in many other democratic countries too. Across Europe, populist parties are delivering a message that combines defense of the welfare state with skepticism about immigration; [all] that denounces the corruption of parliamentary democracy and also the risks of global capitalism. Some of these parties have a leftish flavor, like Italy’s Five Star Movement. Some are rooted to the right of center, like the U.K. Independence Party. Some descend from neo-fascists, like France’s National Front. Others trace their DNA to Communist parties, like Slovakia’s governing Direction–Social Democracy.

These populists seek to defend what the French call “acquired rights” — health care, pensions, and other programs that benefit older people — against bankers and technocrats who endlessly demand austerity; against migrants who make new claims and challenge accustomed ways; against a globalized market that depresses wages and benefits. In the United States, they lean Republican because they fear DEMS who want to take from them and redistribute to Americans who are newer, poorer, and in their view less deserving and to “spread the wealth around” in the words of 2008 candidate Obama who said give it “Joe the Plumber.” Yet they have come to fear more and more strongly that their party does not have their best interests at heart.

A majority of Republicans worry that corporations and the wealthy exert too much power. Their party leaders work to ensure that these same groups can exert even more. So-called mainstream Republicans were quite at ease with tax increases on households earning more than $250,000 in the aftermath of the Great Recession and the subsequent stimulus.

GOP congressional reps had the opposite priorities. In 2008, many GOP primary voters had agreed with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who wanted “their next president to remind them of the guy they work with, not the guy who laid them off.” But those Republicans did not count for much once the primaries ended, and normal politics resumed between the multicultural Democrats and a plutocratic GOP.  

This year, they are counting for more. Their rebellion against the power of organized money has upended American politics in ways that may reverberate for a long time. To understand what may come next, we must first review the recent past.

Continue here >>> truly a “keeper” as they say. 

And, thanks for stopping by here, and more so, thanks to David Frum at The Atlantic for his truly enlightening and thought-provoking article.

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