Paul Waldman in The Washington Post warns Republicans are now vowing Total War. And the consequences could be immense. This warning is coming from multiple sources and has to be taken seriously.
Republicans, it seems, will deny the legitimacy of a Hillary Clinton presidency. They have actually been saying that she would have no mandate because people would only vote for her to avoid Trump. They will immediately take steps for Congress to impeach her, will not co-operate on any legislation she might propose and will refuse to endorse any appointments she might seek to make to the Supreme Court.
That is, of course, assuming that she wins.
In the past week or so since the FBI bombshell about re-opening the investigation of her emails, Trump has gone from a 16% chance of winning to a 36% chance, according to Nate Silver. The only joy is that Clinton’s vote seems to have stabilised. Silver said that most of the change has come from Trump gaining ground rather than Clinton losing ground.
Clinton 64% chance of winning the electoral college vote (or 65% on the latest update), but has a 76% chance of winning the popular vote. She’s doing well in states that traditionally vote Republican, without doing well enough to win them.
One American commentator pointed out that only LBJ has been elected president after being in public life for more than 16 years. Hillary has been a public figure for about 30. Also it is rare for one party to win three times in a row.
Early voting may be in Clinton’s favour, especially Latinos in Florida, where in the polls she’s even. She can afford to lose Ohio and still win, also perhaps Florida, but if she wins Florida, Trump can’t win. Also the greater controversy in this election may produce a bigger turnout, which is likely to favour Clinton, because Trump only leads significantly in one demographic – white males without a college education.
There is a view that those left behind by globalisation do not explain what is behind Trumpism. Zack Beauchamp at Vox sees Trumpism as part of a move to the far right in many Western democracies which gave us Brexit, and a whole new kind of politics in many European countries.
These politicians share Trump’s populist contempt for the traditional political elite. They share his authoritarian views on crime and justice. But most importantly, they share his xenophobia: They despise immigrants, vowing to close the borders to refugees and economic migrants alike, and are open in their belief that Muslims are inherently dangerous.
These parties’ values are too similar, and their victories coming too quickly, for their success to be coincidental. Their platforms, a right-wing radicalism somewhere between traditional conservatism and the naked racism of the Nazis and Ku Klux Klan, have attracted widespread support in countries with wildly different cultures and histories.
And it is this anger, this fear of difference and social change, that drives them — not, as the conventional wisdom would have it, some kind of backlash to globalization.
It’s a long article, worth a read, based on the following headings:
- Table of contents
I. How the resentment of the privileged can change politics
II. Meet the father of today’s far right
III. It’s the xenophobia, stupid
IV. Making the hard right great again
V. Their first major victory: Brexit
VI. Right, what about the economy?
VII. Can the far right be stopped?
The father of the far right, he says, is Jean-Marie Le Pen, where the backlash began in backlash began in earnest in France in 1984.
Jonathon Chait sees Trump as representing authoritarian conservatism, deeply distrustful of government which has been around forever, but found expression in the white South in the racist religious politics of Goldwater in the 1960s. Since then:
- Over that half-century, a thriving ecosystem of think tanks, media, magazines, talk radio, newspapers, and pressure groups arose — first to influence the party and ultimately to define its thinking completely.
There is no longer any such thing as a Republican who is not conservative. The collapse of the George W. Bush administration was greeted among his party not as an indictment of its fanatical tax-cutting, deregulatory agenda and failed effort to privatize Social Security, but as evidence that Bush was not conservative enough. During the Obama administration, a spate of right-wing primary challenges eradicated what was left of the party’s vestigial moderate wing and cowed its remaining mainstream members into submission.
In a later piece Chait says we wanted Trump to win the nomination, and then get thumped in the election. However:
- By March, my point of view had changed. The main piece of evidence that turned me around was a rediscovered interview Trump gave to Playboy in 1990, in which he had praised the Chinese government for its crackdown in Tiananmen Square the previous year. The comments fit in with a long-standing pattern of praise he had offered to various dictators for their ruthlessness. I’ve mentioned this frequently because, while every Trump critic has their own favorite evidence, this, to me, encapsulates his most alarming trait. Through every iteration of his political profile — left-ish to far-right, pro-Democrat and Republican — and every issue flip-flop, from “core” beliefs on trade and immigration to abortion and everything else, Trump has never wavered in his belief that strong leaders dominate and put down their opponents. He’s never had any externally driven motive to say these things. He genuinely believes it.
Without taking anything away from Beauchamp’s analysis, I think I prefer Chait’s narrative of how things played out in the USA.
Chait also says that there is not a struck match between Trump’s policies and those of Paul Ryan, leader of the house for the GOP, who distanced himself from Trump after the 2005 tape showing Trump’s attitude to women became public.
One of the core policies at stake in this election is women’s reproductive rights, and the strategy to appoint Supreme Court judges that will allow those rights to be undermined. Win or lose, the Republicans will filibuster in the Senate to prevent any faintly pro-choice judge to be appointed.
In late breaking news, the FBI have cleared Clinton in relation to the latest email investigation. But get this:
- Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus said that while the probe had not led to criminal charges, it produced evidence that Clinton broke the law and “repeatedly lied to the American people about her reckless conduct.” (Emphasis added)
They will also seek to impeach Clinton on dealing with the Clinton Foundation, which is ironic, because Trump does not intend to put his business dealings into a blind trust if he wins, he would just get his family to take a larger role.
In other election news it is claimed that Melania Trump worked illegally in the US when she first arrived in 1996.
- Washington-based Canadian correspondent Daniel Dale has made it his mission to count every Trump lie every day – by Day 33, in mid-October, he had reached incident 253 in what he describes as the GOP candidate’s “avalanche of wrongness”.
By Dale’s reckoning, Trump’s most truthful day included just four lies; at his worst there were 25 – and that doesn’t include the first two candidate’s debates, in which Trump uttered 34 and 33 falsehoods of varying degrees in just 90 minutes.
No doubt the whole world will be glad when the US election is over, but it won’t be over when it is over. Politics in the US has changed forever, demonstrating, I think, that the system cooked up in the 18th century to bring 13 former British colonies together in a federation is not robust enough to deliver democracy in the 21st.