Friday, April 29, 2016

Who Is Conning Whom?

Paul Krugman has a typically annoying piece today on the "Wrath of the Conned," specifically the GOP conned.
Both parties make promises to their bases. But while the Democratic establishment more or less tries to make good on those promises, the Republican establishment has essentially been playing bait-and-switch for decades. And voters finally rebelled against the con.
While the Dems gave 20 million of their faithful Obamacare, Republicans just toyed with the base.
Their party has historically won elections by appealing to racial enmity and cultural anxiety, but its actual policy agenda is dedicated to serving the interests of the 1 percent, above all through tax cuts for the rich — which even Republican voters don’t support, while they truly loathe elite ideas like privatizing Social Security and Medicare.
Which raises the question, what do those "aggrieved white men" that the GOP strokes with "racial enmity and cultural anxiety" really want?

Well, you tell me. What does the broad middle class of married people with children, who obey the law, go to work, and follow the rules, want from government?

Well, they want to Make America Great Again. They want to feel that the government honors them, and doesn't make it hard to get a job, get a home, raise their children, and doesn't bully them and hector them all the time. And when they have spent a working lifetime paying taxes they feel they have earned their Social Security and Medicare benefits.

The truth is that the GOP has monumentally failed to do this for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that the GOP is the Outer party and doesn't control the culture. And followed by the fact that the GOP went down a rat-hole in Iraq after 9/11, and let the housing bubble pop on their watch.

But what about those "aggrieved white men" and their "racial enmity and cultural anxiety?" Well, I'd say that the GOP has been pretty embarrassed by aggrieved white men over the years. That's why Donald Trump has run the tables in the GOP primaries thus far. The Democrats have been running down white males for 50 years, and nobody until Trump stood up for them. The GOP has been frozen in the headlights by race for 50 years, and utterly discombobulated by the LGBT rights movement and the general left-wing "activism" culture. The GOP faithful know there is something wrong with this, but their party leaders have been unable to draw a line against the race politics of quotas and diversity, and unable to defend ordinary bourgeois marriage-and-children culture against the anti-cisnormative brigade.

So I'd say that the wrath of the GOP voters is not so much the wrath of the conned as the wrath of the badly-led. The job of GOP leaders and their cultural supporters is to promote and defend the culture of the People of the Responsible Self and they have done a pretty bad job of it. The reason for the failure is that conservative cultural and political leaders have been playing the game according to the rules set by liberals, in which, e.g., the racist Al Sharpton is invited to the White House while Republicans are racist for not excoriating David Duke and the KKK on demand. Obviously nothing is going to happen until the GOP grows a pair and kicks over the liberal chessboard and says: we ain't gonna play that game any more, pal.

The other wrath on display is the wrath of the abandoned. We may say that the GOP faithful are badly led, but the white working class that is rallying to Donald Trump was once the Democratic faithful that the liberal elite led, only too well, into the New Deal and powerful unions and payroll-tax-fed retirement benefits. It worked beautifully, and the Dems led the working class from victory to victory for years and years.

But then the Democratic leaders dropped their working class supporters off by the side of the road and recruited a new political army of minorities and women. Now the abandoned are rising up, and -- surprise  surprise -- they are rallying to the Republican Party.

Lots of people still don't realize that the New Deal and the Great Society were all a big con, buying peoples' votes with their own money. But the marks instinctively feel that something is wrong and they are finally revolting.

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