Trump woos workers, Clinton woos Republicans

Donald Trump is going after the vote of blue-collar workers who, rightly, feel abandoned by the Democratic leadership, while Hillary Clinton is trying to woo anti-Trump Republicans.

For struggling American workers, Clinton is like a physician who says your terminal illness is incurable, and also charges bills higher than you can pay.  Trump is like a quack who offers you a treatment that probably won’t work, but you may be willing to try for lack of an alternative.

Thomas Frank, writing in The Guardian, summed up the situation well:

Thomas-Frank_250

Thomas Frank

Donald Trump’s many overtures to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders were just the beginning.  He also deliberately echoed the language of Franklin Roosevelt, he denounced “big business” (not once but several times) and certain of his less bloodthirsty foreign policy proposals almost remind one of George McGovern’s campaign theme: “Come home, America.”

Ivanka Trump promised something that sounded like universal day care.  Peter Thiel denounced the culture wars as a fraud and a distraction.  The Republican platform was altered to include a plank calling for the breakup of big banks via the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall.  I didn’t hear anyone talk about the need to bring “entitlements” under control.  And most crucially, the party’s maximum leader has adopted the left critique of “free trade” almost in its entirety, a critique that I have spent much of my adult life making.

It boggles my simple liberal mind.  The party of free trade and free markets now says it wants to break up Wall Street banks and toss NAFTA to the winds.  The party of family values has nominated a thrice-married vulgarian who doesn’t seem threatened by gay people or concerned about the war over bathrooms.  The party of empire wants to withdraw from foreign entanglements.

Trump is not going to receive my vote, of course.  His bigotry, his racist statements about Mexicans, his attitude toward global warming, his love of authoritarianism, his hypocrisy, his ignorance, his untrustworthiness, and his years of predatory business practice all make such a thing impossible.  He frightens me every time he opens his mouth.

Trump-Iowa-supporters-Getty-640x480But that’s not the point.  The question we need to ask is this: what are the consequences of the violent disruption Trump has visited on our delicately balanced political system?  Look what he has done.  He has dynamited the free-trade consensus that dominated Washington for so many years, he has done it with force, and in the process he has made himself the choice of many millions of Americans who have watched their economic situation deteriorate and heard their concerns brushed off by the Thomas Friedmans and the Bill Clintons of the world.

Source: Thomas Frank | The Guardian

The basic problem is that there are three major factions in American politics, and only two established American political parties.

The factions are the defenders of the status quo, represented by Hillary Clinton;  right-wing populists, represented by Donald Trump; and left-wing populists, formerly represented by Bernie Sanders.  One of the three is going to be left out, and it is not going to be the defenders of the status quo.

I foresee a realignment of the established political parties, but not necessarily in a good way.

Trump wouldn’t really help working people.  He favors tax cuts for rich people, opposes an increase in the minimum wage, wants to appoint Wall Street professionals to run the economy and would repeal Obamacare without putting anything in its place.   His own business history is a record of profiting at the expense of his partners, suppliers and gullible customers.

But he might well win anyway, because the alternative is Hillary Clinton, who is literally a paid servant of Wall Street.

What’s needed is an organization outside the control of the Democratic and Republican parties that represents the interests of American working people and that will hold public officials accountable.

In earlier eras, this role has been played variously by organized labor in the New Deal era, by outside organizations such as the Non-Partisan League in the late 19th century or by alternative parties such as the Progressive Party in Wisconsin in the 1920s or the Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota in the 1930s.

I respect people who are trying to work for change within the two established parties, but they’re mistaken if they give their loyalty to the party.  As a friend of mine who’d been laid off by Eastman Kodak Co. once said to me years ago, an institution consists of a group of people and a set of guiding principles.   If the people change and the principles change, to what are you giving your loyalty?

LINKS

Hillary Clinton needs to wake up: Trump is stealing the voters she takes for granted by Thomas Frank for The Guardian.

The world is taking its revenge against the elites: When will America’s wake up? by Thomas Frank for The Guardian.

Obama said Hillary Will Continue His Legacy — And Indeed She Will by Michael Hudson.  Obama’s legacy is not what most liberals think it is.

So what exactly is Donald Trump’s economic policy? by Heather Long for CNN.  Trump is not really on the side of American working people.

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