Washington Whiplash

There's only so much escalating partisan hatred our system can handle.

The pattern we saw throughout the election has been repeated since the inauguration, on steroids: President Trump's every word is dissected, analyzed, critiqued, sliced, diced, and parsed within an inch of its life by aghast journalists all around the world, leftists almost to a person.  Nearly all of them find his pronouncements to be entirely void of any redeeming virtue whatsoever.

Interestingly, common-or-garden variety leftists seem to have a better grasp of Mr. Trump's goals than their more exalted fellow-travelers.  The comments on this lefty fulmination, for instance, are much more interesting than the article itself.  For example, it's surprising how many dedicated leftists understand that the most inflammatory chunks of Trump's inaugural address are indeed true.

The truth is always hard to accept; much of America IS a disaster zone.There is horrible poverty, unemployment; like an alcoholic you have to accept what is wrong before you can fix it. If he can fix it; good... if he can't well, theres a mid term coming up in 2 years.


"The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country."

Bernie Sanders said the same thing. It is true.

Indeed, as we've noted before, there are a surprising number of Mr. Trump's key platform elements which echo those of Bernie Sanders, which explains why Mr. Trump was the second choice for a startling number of Bernie supporters.  For whatever reason, precious few leaders on the left have any understanding of this, but those lower down have an easier time comprehending the depths of betrayal working-class Americans feel.

Which underscores the very hazardous and unusual position we find ourselves in.

Of Whiplash and Thermostats

Imagine an ordinary room with a standard thermostat on the wall - except there are no numbers on it.  There's a separate thermometer, so you can tell what the temperature in the room is right now, but aside from being able to adjust the thermostat "up" or "down" you have no way of knowing exactly where it's set.

The thermometer represents our economy and the thermostat economic policy and government actions: In general terms, we have some idea of what economic results various policy manipulations will have, but no way to precisely calculate what will or will not happen when we do X.

To return to our theoretical room: Suppose your objective is a comfortable 72 degrees.  The thermometer (and your shivers) tell you it's 50.  Naturally, you turn the thermostat up.

Most people in this situation will crank the thermostat up all the way.  This will get the room to 72, sure enough, but not too much later, it's 90 and everybody's sweating.  You might lower the thermostat a bit and wait for it to cool down, but people get impatient - why not lower it far enough that the cooling system comes on, and then turn it back up later?

You can easily imagine the temperature whiplash resulting from this approach - hot, cold, hot, cold, and never "just right" except for a few moments in passing.  Doesn't this sound like American politics in general and our economy in particular?

The right way to adjust the unlabeled thermostat is to tweak it very slightly, wait a while for the temperature to stabilize, then tweak it again very slightly, wait, and so on until you've discovered the proper setting.  It takes a very disciplined and patient person to live with discomfort through the entire length of this interminable process, but doing it in this way saves a lot of wear and tear on the furnace and air conditioning system as well as reducing energy costs in addition to, eventually, ending up comfortably stable right where you want it.

Certainly, nobody would adjust the economy this way who has to answer to impatient voters every couple of years!  That's why we've tried to insulate our economic thermostat somewhat through measures such as the Fed, which is only indirectly controlled by the people.  Even so, nobody would call our economy stable, or even beneficial much of the time.

And in our modern political arrangement, the economy is probably just about the best run aspect of public life.  Most other elements of governance are directly controlled by the whims of the electorate and the frantically waving pendulum as Democrat succeeds Republican.

The Dizzying Pendulum

This raises the stakes with each election.  The Supreme Court, for instance, has always mattered.  How is it though that, in a supposed democracy, we've reached a point where the death of one single old guy could mean the disappearance of entire Constitutional rights, real or imagined, and potentially the birth of new rights in both directions?

Again, consider how politically different Jimmy Carter was from Ronald Reagan: by today's standards, not very much!  Jimmy Carter was inclined to raise taxes and impose environmental laws, but he also deregulated the transportation industries and was no real friend of unions.  Ronald Reagan continued with the deregulation and was largely mild toward unions that weren't entirely intransigent, having been president of one himself.

Were there significant policy differences between Presidents Reagan and Carter?  Obviously, but they were a small fraction of the deep, profound, unbridgeable gaps between George W. Bush and Barack Obama, which themselves are dwarfed by the galaxy-spanning distance between Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump.  Indeed, each new president makes the previous two seem more similar, no matter how different they might have seemed during their terms in office.

Aside from the obvious problems of political gridlock and vitriol, these ever-increasing swings are rough on achieving good, fair, and predictable government or foreign policy.  The Obama Administration was largely about trying to undo the works of the Bush Administration, from cutting-and-running in Iraq to closing Guantanamo Bay; the obstructionism of the Republicans in Congress was aimed at preventing this retrogression, successfully in some cases and less so in others.  Mr. Obama's one signature legislative achievement, Obamacare, was rammed through without one single Republican vote.

It should come as no surprise that the overriding political objective of the Trump Administration is undoing the Obama years, from Obamacare to open-borders to trade agreements of various sorts to job-killing regulations to potentially a whole host of culture-war issues.  Perhaps The Donald will be successful, perhaps not, but either way, the left will be incensed.

Democrats and their media allies have conveniently forgotten that they made policy oscillations worse by removing the minority's right to filibuster Presidential appointees.  The filibuster ensured that the President couldn't get anyone through the approval process whom the minority truly loathed.  This tended to minimize policy oscillations by drawing appointees from closer to the center.

Even though Democrats dislike Mr. Trump's nominees about as much as it is possible to hate another person without resorting to murder, there's nothing they can do about it because of their own rule change.  We wondered at the time whether they ever thought they'd be facing an energetic Republican in the White House; karma is having its day, which is gratifying to watch but is guaranteed to be uncomfortable in the long term.

Pendulums Multiply

For most of the last century, our only pendulum was economic: Republicans generally favored big businesses, and Democrats favored the "working man."  When Democrats were up, labor unions were favored and found it easier to organize workplaces, and when Republicans were in power, labor unions were investigated.

But both parties wanted the economy to prosper and America to stride the world like a colossus; they differed only on the question of which particular group of Americans should benefit the most.  As power shifted between parties, the pendulum swung between taxing more and taxing less, but government spending always went up because both parties also agreed that they knew better than the voters.

Starting in the 1960s, Democrats changed the economic pendulum, coming to favor redistribution over wealth generation.  Instead of trying to help working people earn more, they take money from working people and give it to people who don't work.  They call this "social justice."

The 2016 Presidential election showed that Democrats have more or less abandoned working people, and working people have caught on.  Mr. Obama valued "fairness" so much that he wanted to increase the capital gains tax even though this was known to lead to less government revenue and fewer jobs, merely because raising this tax would increase fairness.  In saying this, Mr. Obama sounded like a mainstream "tax and spend" Democrat.  We have written many articles about these policies which damage the working class and reduce incentives to work.

The National Pendulum

The differences expressed in the reaction to Mr. Trump's speeches, by the supranational elites vs. normal Americans of both parties, shows that there's another pendulum, swinging between patriotism and the borderless new-world order.  American isolationists have always wanted to minimize interaction with other countries, but after World War II, we realized that we had to interact with other countries to maintain world peace.  The ongoing foreign policy debate has been the degree to which America should look out for itself versus giving up its own immediate interests in favor of other countries, but always with the goal of benefiting America in the long term.

With Mr. Obama's declaration that he was a "citizen of the world," he showed that he was a one-worlder who instead wanted to erase national boundaries and national cultures regardless of the cost or consequences to what was nominally his own country.  He intensified the Democrat practice of using identity politics to pit interest groups against each other - the rich against the poor, blacks and minorities against whites, everyone against businesses and banks, and so on.  Weakening the forces which held Americans together would create chaos and make it easier for Americans to accept a stabilizing one-world government.

In pointing out "When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice," Mr. Trump declared that he wants to restore the original American motto of E pluribus unum, one from many.  Mr. Trump also said, "We must think big and dream even bigger," and "Do not let anyone tell you it can't be done."  If we unite around the American ideal of ensuring our right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," our economy will grow as it has in the past.

This is anathema to the one-worlders, who rightly saw Mr. Trump's call for nationalistic American unity in patriotism as declaring war on their idea of a one-world government.  Liberals are terrified that Mr. Trump will indeed make America great again.  If he does that, they will be locked out of the White House and any other real power center for a very long time indeed.

The Pit and the Pendulum

Unfortunately, the gyrations of a pendulum can be as deadly as they are impressive.  When the American pendulum swung between slavery and emancipation, the question had to be settled by our Civil War.  In dedicating the cemetery after the Battle of Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln concluded by saying

... that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Today, Mr. Obama and his fellow elitists want the American government of the people, by the people, and for the people, to perish from the earth in favor of one-world government.  Mr. Trump has quite rightly declared war on that notion, and naturally enough, its supporters have declared total war on his administration.  Although his election has bought us precious time, it remains to be seen whether or not our form of government shall indeed perish from the earth as so many of our own supposed citizens devoutly wish.

Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump may be re-elected despite the fervent hatred of his opponents.  He may even be followed by another Republican as Mr. Reagan was, but sooner or later, there will be another Democrat president claiming a mandate to undo everything done since January 20, 2017 - only even more so, and more angrily.  How much of this stress and strain can one country or political system handle before it breaks apart?

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
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