Populism Remains Triumphant
Donald Trump continues to provide us with great entertainment. We think it was Mr. Kasich who first referred to him as a “wrecking ball”. In a recent comment on the New Hampshire primary, Stefan Molineux has amended this to the more precise definition “funny-haired wrecking ball”. As he correctly notes, a large part of the Republican base has simply had it with the establishment GOP – and Mr. Trump’s success is reflecting that.
Evolution strikes unexpectedly and hard
Cartoon by Arthur “Chip” Bok
The same is happening on the Democratic side, where Bernie Sanders has clearly become a serious challenger of Hillary Clinton (who in turn incidentally remains in danger of being indicted over her sloppy handling of top secret emails while secretary of state). This is getting a lot less attention than Trump’s triumphs, but it reflects the very same underlying trend: people have had it with the political establishment.
Of the recent South Carolina (Republican) primary and Nevada (Democratic) caucus , CNN tells us “Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton win big”. Well, no, this isn’t really so. Granted, Trump definitely did win big. He even managed to get Jeb Bush, the by far best-funded neo-con dream candidate to throw the towel (we greatly enjoyed his strenuously politically correct after-the-fact whining). Hillary Clinton didn’t “win big” – she just about scraped by, considering who her opponent is and how much more money she is able to draw from the cronies. Here are the statistics:
Trump wins 50 delegates, outdistancing his nearest rival by 10% and essentially destryong the presidential bids of Bush, Kasich and Carson, even if only Bush has so far decided to drop out.
It is a decent majority for Hillary, but so far she won one primary by tossing coins (Iowa), lost one and in this one, Sanders still got more than 47% – something that would have been deemed impossible a year ago and shows that his support remains very strong.
As Justin Raimondo has pointed out after the New Hampshire primary, one can hardly call the surge of Trump and Sanders an unalloyed blessing. However, what is undoubtedly a blessing is what their success tells us about the likely crumbling of the reigning order and the imperialism, cronyism and welfare-warfare statism it represents:
“However, the peccadilloes of these two individuals, while not entirely beside the point, matter less than what their ascendancy tells us about the seismic changes that are transforming the American political landscape. The political and corporate elites that have ruled, unchallenged, since the end of World War II, and whose perspective is globalist, imperialist, and mercantilist, are facing a serious insurrection: the peasants with pitchforks are gathering in the shadow of the high castle, their torches illuminating the twilight of the West. Whether they succeed in penetrating the fortress and violating the inner sanctum matters less than the destructive effects of the battle itself. Does our ruling class have the will to fight and win? We’ll have the answer shortly.”
Keep in mind that this change in the social mood is not only a US phenomenon – it is a global one. The European elites are increasingly under fire as well. This has among other things major implications for stock markets.
Powerless Mainstream Media
Trump’s continued success has revealed another gratifying trend: the ability of the mainstream media to shape public opinion and keep the serfs in line has practically collapsed. The more they attack Trump (Sanders is far less susceptible to attack as he is a self-declared socialist), the more his support seems to be growing.
Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign was inter alia rendered ineffective because the corporate media decided to simply ignore him (here is the famous Jon Stewart report on this blatantly biased reportage). They can’t do that with Trump and Sanders though – that would simply be too freaking obvious. Besides, we assume that these two gentlemen are drawing a great many viewers and readers – so it is a question of money too.
Europe’s leftist press is positively apoplectic – possibly because it is misunderstanding a major point (more on this below). Or maybe it actually isn’t misunderstanding the point – if one studies the European media closely, it becomes clear that whether they are more inclined to supporting socialist or conservative viewpoints (there is no support for classical liberalism/ libertarianism in Europe), they are all in thrall to what the Germans refer to as “Trans-Atlanticism”. Here is a recent cover of German weekly magazine “Der Spiegel”:
German magazine Der Spiegel on Donald Trump – an example of European style “factual, value-free reporting”: in great red letters it says “Madness” – the subtitle is “America’s rabble-rouser Donald Trump”.
Endangering the War Racket
What is the point we think they either haven’t grasped or are more likely willfully ignoring? After all, the left is probably not overly worried about Trump’s truly terrible ideas on trade (a “populist” evergreen). If you watch Stefan Molineux’s video on the New Hampshire primary we have linked to above, at around 47:07 in the video, he mentions a point that strikes us as very important.
Paraphrasing: when Republican candidates were asked what they would “do about North Korea”, they all seemed eager to bomb, nuke, invade, or otherwise militarily subdue it. The prospect of potentially killing 100ds of thousands or perhaps millions of Koreans in the process seemed not to figure in anyone’s calculations for even a micro-second.
The only anti-war approach to the problem was offered by Trump (i.e., the guy who allegedly “can’t be trusted with the nuclear codes”), who noted that China has as much influence over North Korea as the US has over Puerto Rico and should therefore be asked to handle the problem. Since China enjoys most favored nation trading status with the US, it could surely be prodded to do so.
Trump’s biggest drawbacks in the eyes of the cronies seem to be the following: 1) he is the only candidate not under the control of the donor class. Trump uses his own money to campaign, which allows him to say whatever pops into his mind. And 2) he is the only candidate besides Sanders who promises to be a thorn in the side of the war racket and is likely to upset Washington’s imperial neo-conservative foreign policy consensus (of which Hillary is just as much a representative as Jeb Bush is).
We return to Justin Raimondo regarding this topic, who notes the following:
In the debate leading up to the South Carolina primary, Trump even dared remind people of the deception attending the Iraq war – something one had to be willfully blind not to recognize in real time while it happened, all post facto attempts at exoneration notwithstanding (honest mistakes were made! Yeah, right). As Raimondo remarks:
“Pardon me while I sit back and enjoy the panic of the Republican – and media – elites as the GOP frontrunner takes up that old left-wing antiwar slogan: “Bush lied – people died!” That’s the essence of what Donald Trump said at Saturday’s South Carolina GOP presidential debate when moderator John Dickerson – who smirked his way through the entire debate – asked Trump if he still thought George W. Bush should be impeached as he supposedly said in a long ago interview:
“George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.”
DICKERSON: “But so I’m going to – so you still think he should be impeached?”
TRUMP: “You do whatever you want. You call it whatever you want. I want to tell you. They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.”
The storm of booing from that crowd, which seemed mainly to consist of members of the Lindsey Graham Ladies Home Garden Club, conjured in my memory another signal moment in the history of GOP presidential debates: when Ron Paul said that the 9/11 attacks were “blowback” resulting from half a century of propping up Arab despots in the Middle East. Remember how everyone declared that Paul was finished: that by saying the un-sayable he had forever dashed all hopes of making a political impact on the Republican party and that he was now consigned to the margins? What happened, however, was nothing of the sort: instead, that moment of speaking truth to power catapulted him to national prominence and was instrumental in creating a national movement that lives and grows to this day.
Note the “storm of booing from the crowd”, so out of sync with that the base apparently really thinks. That’s because tickets to primaries are controlled by donors as a way to stack the deck against candidates like Trump. Only a handpicked crowd of Deep State supporters is invited. Hence the incongruous clapping and booing there, which is completely out of line with the results.
Obviously, Trump hasn’t been hurt in the least by pointing to the failings of the Iraq invasion – specifically the glaringly obvious fact that the “reasons” for the war were, well, completely trumped up.
Trump fails to “misremember” what Bush and his neo-conservative clique did to drum up support for their catastrophic Iraq invasion (aided and abetted by the sycophantic mainstream media as well, lest we forget).
Cartoon by Steve Bell
War is the health of the State, as Randolph Bourne famously said. A candidate’s stance toward militarism and empire strikes us as an extremely important issue. And obviously, a non-militarist stance will invite strong opposition – we are after all talking about the greatest racket of all time here. Even the global warming gravy train pales by comparison.
Is no-one surprised that the leftist European press has overlooked this little detail about Trump, instead preferring to be outraged over his allegedly Hitleresque opposition to immigration?
Lest we be misunderstood, we think that all candidates are terrible in their own way (as in nearly every election). And yet, we certainly like the fact that Trump and Sanders are busy shaking the establishment to the core. Less than a year ago we were still willing to bet that Americans would be faced with a race between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, which we called a “pitiful choice”. Surprisingly, one of these two members of what Bill Bonner calls “America’s expensive nobility” is gone from the race already, and there’s a good chance the other one could be dethroned in advance of the election as well.
That fact alone is quite fascinating and gratifying. Instead of the usual electoral dullness, we have entertainment pure! It is also telling: a big social mood shift is underway and it is not going the way the political elites would like (the threatening “Brexit” falls under this heading as well). We intend to discuss some of the policy proposals of Trump and Sanders in more detail in upcoming posts.
The topic we plan to tackle next is the one on which we think Trump is completely wrong, namely trade. He would be correct to criticize the current “managed trade” regime, but he wants to restrict trade even more – an economically illiterate position, and frankly quite an odd one to take for a man who inter alia happens to be in the export business himself. Stay tuned.