David Frum: Hillary Clinton’s Polarizing Path to Victory and the Republican Party – The Atlantic

Some will outright deny the legitimacy of the Democratic win; all will expect it to be a briefly passing thing to be resisted at all costs until normal politics reasserts itself. While the same people who wrote the “party autopsy” after 2012 will proclaim after a Trump defeat that now it is time to revert to the true Reagan-Kemp-Ryan gospel, Republicans with an eye to the future will recognize that Trump discovered something new and important about national politics. Trump inspired millions of Americans to vote as if “white” were an ethnic bloc, something often seen in state elections in the South, but rarely if ever before seen in a presidential contest. Yet this new sighting will likely recur again and again as the relative wealth and power of downmarket white America shrink—and especially if a President Clinton’s immigration policies accelerate that shrinkage. President Obama’s famous hope that the “fever will break” in favor of a more calm, deliberate, and technical politics of adjustment between a pro-market right and a pro-intervention left will seem even more forlorn, as November’s winners perceive a non-recurring opportunity to take all—and November’s losers fear they could lose all.

Source: Hillary Clinton’s Polarizing Path to Victory and the Republican Party – The Atlantic

2 comments on “David Frum: Hillary Clinton’s Polarizing Path to Victory and the Republican Party – The Atlantic

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  1. An altogether odd post. Mostly it seems about the “polarizing” stance of the republican’s. Then this “They’ll [D’s] lead with the most divisive item of them all, immigration, in hope of locking in for the long haul the electoral majority that only good fortune gained them in 2016.” It seems to me that the GOP stance and presidential campaign rhetoric might have something to do with the divisiveness of the subject.

    Anyway, I noticed here clicking on the title lands you at the Atlantic article, while at OT it lands you at the OT post. Here you have to click on the comment number to get to the local post. Is that you intention?

    • Didn’t find the post so odd, but was more interested in his speculative comments than in his blame-assigning.

      May have more to say later, but it’s off to jury duty for me in a minute. On your question about the site feature, yes, the click-to-source is intentional. Could go either way on it. If I were commenting on the items rather than just “noting and quoting” them, I might go with the other mode, but seems less like “stealing content” this way. At the time I implemented the feature at OT, I hadn’t yet coded it in as nearly foolproof a way for the aggregator-curator. If I had it do over, I might choose link-to-source for OT, too, but differences over the feature itself were part of what led to my separation from the site, and I think a link-to-source approach would have accentuated them.

      BTW, did you ever hear back about Electronic Atomic Geography?

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Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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