21 September 2016

Chaos Comes

It may be, although I still doubt it, that Mr. Trump will win. My expectation is that Sec. Clinton will, but I have been wrong before. Regardless, America has been deeply wounded and may be unable to recover.

Let me tell you what Donald Trump has done. He has unleashed and normalized racism, misogyny, nativism, homophobia, and oddly for this clearly agnostic man, theism. The demons are out from under the rocks, and it will take quite a lot to put them back.

Slime, nativism, and bigotry are hardly new. The Koch brothers whose money was unleashed by the worst decision since Dred Scott v Sanford in 1857, Citizens United v FEC, stand in a long line. That line includes Sen. McCarthy, blacklists, and the John Birch Society.

Eventually, the country partially recovered from the Scott decision. You may recall learning about some aspects of the recovery process, worked out in places like Gettysburg, Antietam, and Ford's Theatre. Whole States were ruined, cities burned, railroads and highways destroyed, and an estimated 270,000 military casualties, no one knows the civilian death count, were the price of the Dred Scot debacle.

Arguably, the toll ran higher. Jim Crow, the legalization of racism, was a direct result. In many ways, compensation differential, ongoing sexism, and police shootings among them, we are still paying.

What precipitated the War Between the States was a period of stark political instability. The two party system, at the beginning of the 1850s, meant the Democrats and the Whigs. At that balance point in history, Whigs included Abraham Lincoln, John C. Fremont, Daniel Webster, and Henry Clay. By 1852, when the party could not manage to support an incumbent President Fillmore, a single issue had destroyed it. That issue was argued as the legal status of slavery in the newly developed territories West of the Mississippi, but it was really about racism. Were slaves, or potential slaves people? The Dred Scott decision said no, and America bled.

We should note the current political self-destruction began over a single issue. The social role of the State it was called. It was not one drunk Senator's lone work. Serious thinkers, such as Senator Goldwater and William F. Buckley contributed to the discussion, but were drowned out by the remnants of the Jim Crow culture, the intellectually bankrupt ravings of the likes of Ayn Rand, and opportunistic "TV preachers" advancing their interest in theocracy. But the argument was centered on a mix of racism, "welfare" was perceived to go to Blacks, and misogyny, welfare MOTHERS were the source of all evil.

The dissolution of the Republican party became visible this year as so many candidates with so many mutually exclusive viewpoints made it difficult to discern any theme other than a general discomfort with strong women (Mrs. Clinton) and African-American leaders (Pres. Obama.) The party of Dewey and Eisenhower was now the home of Cruz and McCarthy.

Mr. Trump emerged from the chaos as the candidate after a fratricidal primary process. The process left the Republicans with primary candidates who refuse to endorse or campaign for Mr. Trump in the face of outright threats from RNC chair Priebus. We should note that Mr. Priebus is an employee of the fracturing party. Trump is the candidate of chaos, from chaos.

Rational folks keep waiting for Trump to finally do or say something that destroys his campaign. As the "debates," actually staged TV confrontations approach, Trump attacks the platform before ascending it, and the possibility of a blowup grows. If he does not blow up, or "lose" by some ethereal standard, and manages to keep close to truthful answers, he will have survived despite his attacks on the First Amendment, and other parts of the American "Bill of Rights," his unconscionable attacks on the Federal Judiciary, and his amazing attacks on journalists.

No matter who ultimately wins, chaos comes. Even if Mrs. Clinton wins, the rocks are overturned, the slime is released and the chaos is upon us. If as I think, we are seeing in the 17 candidates that arose in the primaries the impending death of the Republican Party, the rise of chaos and the incapacitating of the two party system, we can expect the rise of splinter parties. In fact some are already visible: the Libertarians, who have been a fringe group for years are suddenly poling near 9%, enough to materially impact the election. Suddenly it matters that David Duke, an open racist, endorsed Trump. The standards are eroding, the center is not holding. Chaos comes.

Citizens United may well be the Dred Scot of our day. The system is disrupted. Last time it was, we landed in a vicious war. We are more advanced in our killing technology now. In 1860, the first machine guns had recently been developed. They had little impact on the war. We have perhaps advanced too much.

Chaos Comes.

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