Nixon came to power after winning a squeaker in 1968 because the Democratic Party had imploded. A shrewd campaigner and a dirty tricks magician, Nixon colluded with the South Vietnamese to upend LBJ's peace initiative, dooming Humphrey's chances of victory; then, in 1972, thanks to Kevin Phillips' Southern Strategy and the assassination attempt and crippling of George Wallace, Nixon reaped the whirlwind and smoked McGovern, remaking the GOP as the party of the cracker working man.
After that '72 landslide there was Watergate, and it was the GOP's turn to wander in the wilderness. Until the Reagan messiah appeared to cleanse the body politic six years later.
But Trump, who fancies himself a Reagan, is no Reagan. Trump is a Nixon, a deluded, brooding, grudge junkie without any of Nixon's Deep State sophistication, on foreign policy, on the labyrinthine federal bureaucracy, etc. Rather than recording himself on mountains of magnetic audio tape, Trump mainlines himself into the global noosphere via Twitter.
Nixon's election was a river flowing backward against the zeitgeist. The country continued to get freakier as Nixon welcomed Billy Graham to the White House. The same thing is going to happen now. Western society is now solidly feminist and multicultural and pantheistic. The old time dysfunctional cracker monotheistic patriarchal order is broken beyond repair. It can appear from the corner of the eye, like a ghost encountered on the staircase of the Winchester Mystery House, as majority sentiment, but it is not. Trump's 45% approval rating is probably his maximum level of support. We'll see tomorrow when a Right-to-Life march stacks up against last week's women's march.
Trump is headed full speed for the cliff. If I had to bet I would say that his goading of the Dragon is an almost certain path to destruction. To understand why read "Trump Injects High Risk Into Relations With China" by Jane Perlez and Chris Buckley. Trump's scrapping of the TPP convinced the Chinese that he might do the same thing with Nixon's One China policy. The Chinese are now preparing for a trade war; they will target Boeing aircraft and U.S. agricultural bounty. The Trump administration has also been hinting at a blockade of the islands China has recently constructed in the South China Sea. According to Perlez and Buckley,
Mr. Trump has also threatened China on control of territory it claims in the South China Sea. The comments by Mr. Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, on Monday echoed those made by his nominee for secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, at his Senate confirmation hearing.
While Mr. Trump has not explained how he will keep China off islands where it has built airstrips and installed weapons, the comments by his appointees suggest the possibility of an American blockade. While Mr. Obama tried unsuccessfully to leverage American allies in the region to compel China to back down, Mr. Trump seems willing to abandon them and face China on his own.
That go-it-alone attitude has raised alarms at the Pentagon and among American Navy experts, who said such a blockade would be tantamount to war. The idea has also alarmed America’s allies.
Australia, Washington’s staunchest ally in the Asia Pacific region, would not participate in such a venture, its defense officials said, adding that a blockade could not be successful and could serve to persuade disenchanted American friends in the Asia Pacific to pivot toward China.A scenario where the Pentagon refuses orders of the commander in chief and then works with allies in Congress to remove him is not far-fetched.
One thing is certain, the Masters of the Universe, the 0.1%, are nervous. "Elites Eying the Exits Signals America's Crisis," by Robert Johnson, was posted yesterday on Naked Capitalism:
Yves here. A former private equity partner mentioned the New Yorker story on 0.1% bunkering. He noticed how they focused on the private jet pilot as a point of vulnerability, that he might fly his family out and leave them stranded. So the approach is to assure him that his relatives get seats on the plane too.
Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website
Interviewed as part of an extraordinary New Yorker investigation into growing anxiety among America’s corporate elite over the potential for anarchic social collapse, Institute President Robert Johnson saw his peers’ talk of bolt-holes in New Zealand as reflecting a deeper crisis.
Johnson told writer Evan Osnos of the mounting anxiety he had encountered among hedge-fund managers and other wealthy Americans he knew. “More and more were saying, ‘You’ve got to have a private plane,” Johnson said. “You have to assure that the pilot’s family will be taken care of, too. They have to be on the plane.’ ”
Osnos writes: “By January, 2015, Johnson was sounding the alarm: the tensions produced by acute income inequality were becoming so pronounced that some of the world’s wealthiest people were taking steps to protect themselves. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Johnson told the audience, ‘I know hedge-fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway.’ ”
Johnson bemoaned the lack of a “spirit of stewardship” and openness to more aggressively redistributive tax policy among the wealthy.
“Twenty-five hedge-fund managers make more money than all of the kindergarten teachers in America combined,” he told the New Yorker. “Being one of those twenty-five doesn’t feel good. I think they’ve developed a heightened sensitivity.”
If anything, Osnos wrote, inequality is widening, noting recent statistics from the National Bureau of Economic Research that showed that while incomes for the top 1 percent of Americans have nearly tripled, half of the population was earning at the same level they did in 1980, comparing America’s wealth gap to that seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“If we had a more equal distribution of income, and much more money and energy going into public school systems, parks and recreation, the arts, and health care, it could take an awful lot of sting out of society,” Johnson said. “We’ve largely dismantled those things.”
He saw elite anxiety as an indicator America’s social crisis.
“Why do people who are envied for being so powerful appear to be so afraid?” Johnson said. “What does that really tell us about our system? It’s a very odd thing. You’re basically seeing that the people who’ve been the best at reading the tea leaves—the ones with the most resources, because that’s how they made their money—are now the ones most preparing to pull the rip cord and jump out of the plane.”Trump is a manifestation of end times. When it becomes apparent that he is a lens magnifying end times, hastening their arrival, rather than punting them downfield for another decade or two, the GOP in Congress will abandon him. But by that time it will be too late.