David Brooks, Jessica Williams, and Political Alignments
By Dennis Loo (7/1/16)
In today’s New York Times David Brooks predicts a future American political alignment that he calls “open/closed,” as in trade walls:
I personally doubt that Trump will be able to pull off a right-left populist coalition. His views on women and minorities are unacceptable to nearly everybody on the left. There’s no evidence that he’s winning over many Sanders voters or downscale progressives.
But where Trump fails, somebody else will succeed. And that’s where he’s substantively revolutionary. The old size-of-government question [the GOP’s small government rhetoric v. the Democrat’s big government] was growing increasingly archaic and obsolete. In country after country the main battle lines of debate are evolving toward the open/closed framework.
David Brooks’ personal doubts aside, Jessica Williams’s farewell piece at The Daily Show last night featured her interviewing six Bernie Sanders’ voters who represent about a quarter of Sanders’ supporters who say they are likely or sure to vote for Trump. WTF? is her approach, incredulous that Sanders’ supporters would go so opposite Sanders’ stated views to jump over Clinton and vote for Trump.
Her shock is equivalent to those who typically pass off the Trump supporter as a racist and sexist hick who doesn’t know any better. Don’t get me wrong, Trump is definitely getting the red neck vote and racism, sexism, homophobia and so on is alive and well among his supporters, intensified by Trump and his campaign leaders.
But what Ms. Williams and Mr. Brooks are both missing is an understanding of what underlies this political earthquake.
Brooks says that NAFTA, CAFTA, TPP and other agreements to supposedly open up trade have caused huge economic boons to many though not to the manufacturing sector in First World countries. He sees the open/close alignment as a mistake, though the decided coming trend.
In Williams’ piece the Sanders’ supporters regard Clinton’s approach as the problem and given the straitjacket nature of operating and thinking solely within the confines of electoral politics – your role as a citizen is restricted to voting – their choice to avoid Clinton and hold their noses while voting for Trump makes some sense. Not that voting makes sense, because it doesn’t, but if you think that way, then voting for Trump over Clinton has a rationale to it.
What is occurring? A majority of the public is disenchanted with globalization (whose political expression is neoliberalism). The small government v. big government rhetorical differences between the GOP and the Democrats is window-dressing since they both endorse privatization and spending at breakneck levels for the security apparatus (military, cops, surveillance, etc.). Both parties have presided over bigger and bigger government, with the GOP hiding it in the form of privatizing former government functions such as the debacle of the Veteran’s Administration (remember the Walter Reed Army hospital scandal under Bush?) and the Democrats are basically me-too in this.
Many people right now think the problem is run-away immigration et al, but these are in fact problems of neoliberalism and imperialist domination. What the problem is objectively is reality and reality has this nasty thing about it that it doesn’t go away, even if you try to deny it or fail to acknowledge it. So can the objective truth about why so many are suffering emerge and become a real material force in the world? Until it does the problems the system is creating will not go away but will only get worse.
This site aims to accomplish two related goals. First, it complements Dennis Loo's book Globalization and the Demolition of Society so that people reading the book can get more deeply into it. (See navigation bar above, labeled "GDS Book Annotations"). We believe that his book is a landmark, providing a solid foundation for politics of a new path. Taking such a path is critical to humanity and the planet's future. As his book's dust jacket states:
[F]ree market fundamentalism - also known as neoliberalism - makes us not more secure or prosperous: it tears the social fabric and undermines security, leading inevitably to disasters on the individual, regional, and global levels.
Neoliberalism is based on the mantra that market forces should run everything. It aims to eliminate job and income security, the social safety net (including welfare and other social guarantees), unions, pensions, public services, and the governmental regulation of corporations. It consequently undermines the basis for people to voluntarily cooperate with authority as almost everyone is increasingly left by themselves to face gargantuan private interests, with governmental and corporate authority ever more indifferent to the public’s welfare.
Those in charge of our collective fates in government and business personify a heartless system based on profit and plunder. They have been relentlessly instituting profoundly immoral and unjust policies even while they insist that they are doing the opposite. We, on the other hand, stand for and are fighting for a radically different system and set of values than this.
Second, in order to get at the truth and because the ways in which humanity's historic striving for understanding and its capacity to wonder and imagine are very rich and diverse, we seek to reflect that richness and diversity on our site. See "About Us" on navigation bar. We intend to be engaging and compelling, as the best investigative journalism and art are, and relentlessly scientific, rigorous, and direct, as those who cherish the truth are. We believe that we can be both accessible and sophisticated. As Loo lays out in his book,
Defeating the empire is not something that occurs only on the literal battlefield. It is also something that is determined throughout the continuum of battles over many issues, including: ideas; philosophy; forms of organization and leadership in economy, politics, and other realms; ways of arguing; ways of responding to and respecting empirical data; interest in truth as opposed to expedience; how people and the environment should be treated; the nature of relations among people (e.g., between women and men, different races and ethnicities, rich and poor countries, etc.); ways of responding to criticism and ideas that are not your own; ways of handling one’s own errors and those of others; and more, all the way up through how warfare is carried out. The contrast between the methods and goals of the neoliberals and those of us who seek an entirely different world is stark. (Globalization and the Demolition of Society, Pp. 326-7)