I wonder whether what is happening in America parallels the social democratisation of the dominant parties long prevalent in Germany. If the below author is right, cannot what he argues be interpreted to mean that the political system of the US is effectively shedding the non-social-democratic fringe? Democrats and Republicans are vying for support by the social democratic majority. That, of course, assumes that the author's statistical estimates of the number of anti-establishment Republicans are exaggerated:
The Republican Party died during the struggle over Obamacare. Its most vital elected officials chose to represent their voters. This left their erstwhile leaders to continue pursuing acceptance by the ruling party, its press and its class. The result is a new party that represents the roughly three fourths of Republican voters whose social identities are alien to those of the ruling class and whose political identity is defined by opposition to the ruling party. These voters are outsiders to modern America’s power structure. Hence the new party that represents them is a “country party” in the British tradition of Viscount Bolingbroke’s early eighteenth century Whigs, who represented the country class against the royal court and its allies in Parliament. The forthcoming food fight over the name “Republican” is of secondary importance. [...]
This has been a long time coming. Obamacare was a trigger, not a cause. While a majority of Democrats feel that officials who bear that label represent them well, only about a fourth of Republican voters and an even smaller proportion of independents trust Republican officials to represent them. [...]
Rather than defending their voters’ socio-political identities, they ignore, soft-pedal, or give mere lip service to their voters’ concerns. It chooses candidates for office whose election only steadies America on a course of which most Americans disapprove. [...]
The issue groups’ joint endeavor to de-fund Obamacare, their joint rejection of the Republican Party’s leadership, and the collaboration of Republican legislators who had been endorsed by some but not others of these groups, effectively forms a new party. The question is not what the Republican Establishment will do with these dissidents but what the dissidents will do with the Establishment.
Is duelling actually illegal, nowadays? And if it is, would such prohibition be a case of paternalism? Or have we "nudged" ourselves toward a duelling taboo that most moderns are proud about as being a victory of reason?
Lately, Trump and Romney have engaged in a contemporary form of duelling. David Stockman claims that in attacking Trump as a businessman of poor performance Romney is presenting us with "a screaming case of the pot calling the kettle black."
Mitt Romney has lashed out at The Donald for being a “phony and fraud”, but consider this. During his 16-years at Bain Capital, fully one-fourth or $600 million of the firms cumulative $2.5 billion of profits were scalped from companies which went bankrupt soon after Mitt and his partners got out of town with the loot.
No wonder the American voters did not believe him when he claimed to be the “job creator”!
Perhaps more interestingly, Stockman, as ever a little shrill on doom and gloom and human depravity, offers us a graphic account of how to make money in the private equity business.
An administration may reasonably offer indications to other governments on its attitude towards a possible momentous policy change. Normally, such indications ought to be conveyed in politic, perhaps even intramural, rather than publicly ostentatious fashion. All the more, a responsible government is well advised to be very careful to join the fray in foreign electoral campaigns. It may be just about a borderline case of admissibility when the US government takes sides in the debate of Brexit (Britain's exit from the EU), but the sheer incompetence and ignorance of US foreign policy in the face of its most important challenges never ceases to amaze me; the "masterpiece" being the enormously costly, decade-long destabilisation of the Muslim world from Libya to Afghanistan at the hands of both Republican and Democratic Administrations. It would seem, however, none of the presidential aspirants show promise to change this major shortcoming.
The source. There is something special about the English art of vituperative commenting.
While US Secretary of State, John Kerry, emphasises that his country has a ‘profound interest… in a very strong United Kingdom staying in a strong EU’, Matt Ridley begs to differ:
How would Americans like it if we argued that it is in our interests that the United States should forthwith be united with all the countries in their continent north of the Panama Canal — Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador and Panama — into a vast customs union governed by a trans-national, unelected civil service. Let’s call it the American Union, or AU.
Imagine that Britain’s Foreign Secretary has just made a speech in Toronto saying he thinks America should join the AU in order to influence Mexico in the direction of free trade. The great and the good in America agree, because they think being part of the ten-country AU will prevent war, boost trade, help smaller nations compete with the behemoths of Europe and China, enable free movement of people, stand up to Russia, encourage scientific co-operation and ensure environmental protection.
Above all, we argue, it would show the world that America is not small-minded, xenophobic, protectionist and isolationist. To this end we think the AU should — er — agree a common tariff against imports from the poorer countries of South America and have free movement of peoples within but not from outside the union. We also think the United States should give up the dollar and use a common currency issued in central America, called the auro, sometimes known as the oreo, or if it is not ready to do that, should encourage others to use the auro, even though there is limited fiscal harmonisation, which bodes ill for the single currency. Oh, and the flag of the AU, consisting of ten radial yellow stripes on a blue background, should be prominently displayed alongside the Stars and Stripes.
Unfortunately, in the current political climate, it turns out that these manifest advantages, deliciously attractive though they might be to the American elite, because they offer an escape from having to think about people in places like Iowa and New Hampshire, apparently do not have quite the same appeal to the American electorate. People are worried about Mexicans taking their jobs, using their health care and drawing upon their welfare if they join the AU. And about Panamanians running up deficits, Guatemalans passing laws that affect Americans and Nicaraguans sharing a common foreign policy.
The average Trump voter might not like Congress much, but he likes the idea of an expensive international parliament that shuttles between Mexico City and Vancouver even less, and of an international executive whose directives pass automatically into law still less, let alone one whose corridors of power are positively seething with lobbyists from big business and big pressure groups (funded by the AU to lobby it). As for the idea that the US Supreme Court could be overruled by judges sitting in Toronto or Managua…
The vacancy created [by judge Scalia's demise] on the Supreme Court makes painfully clear the huge stakes involved when we choose a President of the United States, just one of whose many powers is the power to nominate justices of the Supreme Court.
Justice Scalia's passing would be a great loss at any time. But at this crucial juncture in the history of the nation -- with 5-to-4 Supreme Court decisions determining what kind of country America will be -- Scalia's death can be catastrophic in its consequences, depending on who is chosen to be his successor.
He does not like Donald Trump:
If, by some miracle, Trump became president, what kind of president would he be? Do we need another self-centered know-it-all in the White House to replace the one we have now?
Sowell thinks the only candidate up to the challenge is Ted Cruz:
If the Republicans are to avoid having Donald Trump lead them -- and the country -- to disaster, they are going to have to have the majority of non-Trump supporters get behind some given candidate.
Senator Ted Cruz has been criticized in this column before, and will undoubtedly be criticized here again. But we can only make our choices among those actually available, and Senator Cruz is the one who comes to mind when depth and steadfastness come to mind.
As someone who once clerked for a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he will know how important choosing Justice Scalia's replacement will be. And he has the intellect to understand much more.
Image credit. Thomas Sowell's dictum may be overly trenchant, but the point he is trying to make is cogent.
Also, I do not condone the insult expressed at time mark 02:25, but otherwise Rushdie's argument strikes me as sound.
Writes Richard Larsen:
America has a rich history as a melting pot of cultures, ethnicity, and religion. Those who have come here over the past couple hundred years have sought a better life through the freedoms and liberties assured by our Constitution and the free enterprise system that fosters their “pursuit of happiness.” They’ve brought their culture, customs, and language with them, but they became Americans: learned English, learned our customs and conventions, and became encultured into the American way. America is great in large part because of the diversity of our people, and the richness of our cultural elements brought here. But multiculturalism has become much more than that, and is now more destructive than ameliorative, to American culture.
I have long believed that the most likely outcome of Islam’s civilizational crisis is a body count that would beggar the last century’s world wars.
And, even if the best possible outcome is achieved, the author expects,
There would be no glorious era of Arab democracy, no Arab spring, no happy ending, just a less murderous sort of despotism and an armistice rather than a real peace between Shia and Sunni. That is as good as ever it will get in that miserable region.
At any rate, too fragile are the solutions sketched in the below article that they would seem likely to succeed. Also, I have reservations concerning the author's hopes for the requisite statesmanship.
Still, it is a remarkable article that has yielded me new perspectives and - in many ways - a surprisingly conclusive global assessment of the region and its players (including the US and Europe).
The great task of diplomacy in the 21st century is a sad and dreary one, namely managing the decline of Muslim civilization. There is a parallel to the great diplomatic problem of the late 19th and early 20th century, the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, which the diplomats bungled horribly.
It is no job for the idealistic, namely the Americans, nor for the squeamish, namely the Europeans. The breakdown of civil order in a great arc from Beirut to Basra has already displaced 20 million people and raised the world refugee count from 40 million in 2011 to 60 million in 2014, with scores of millions at risk. After it failed to build democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States fell into a sullen torpor in which serious discussion of intervention in the regime is excluded. The hypocritical Europeans averted their eyes until millions of desperate people appeared on their doorstep, and remain clueless in the face of the worst humanitarian crisis since the last world war.
That leaves Vladimir Putin as the last, best hope of a region already halfway over the brink into the abyss. That is a disturbing thought, because the Russian leader has played the spoiler rather than the statesman in his wrangling with Western powers over the past decade and a half. Nonetheless, Russia has an existential interest in sorting out the Levant. Muslims comprise a seventh of the population of the Russian Federation, and the growing influence of ISIS threatens to give a fresh wind to terrorism inside Russia.