In the week leading up to last Tuesday's election the press was busy writing obituaries for the Republican Party. This continued even after Donald Trump's "surprising" victory -- which, like the 2008 bank-fraud crash, "nobody could have expected." The pretense is that Trump saw what no other politician saw: that the economy has not recovered since 2008.
Democrats still seem amazed that voters are more concerned about economic conditions and resentment against Wall Street (no bankers jailed, few junk mortgages written down). It is a sign of their wrong path that party strategists are holding onto the same identity politics they have used since the 1960s to divide Americans into hyphenated special-interest groups.
Obviously, the bottom 95 Percent realize that their incomes and net worth have declined, not recovered. National Income and Federal Reserve statistics show that all growth has accrued to just 5 percent of the population. Hillary is said to have spent $1 billion on polling, TV advertising and high-salaried staff members, but managed not to foresee the political reaction to this polarization. She and her coterie ignored economic policy as soon as Bernie was shoved out of the way and his followers all but told to join a third party. Her campaign speech tried to convince voters that they were better off than they were eight years ago. They knew better!
So the question now is whether Donald Trump will really be a maverick and shake up the Republican Party. There seems to be a fight going on for Donald's soul -- or at least the personnel he appoints to his cabinet. Thursday and Friday saw corporate lobbyists in the Republican leadership love-bombing him like the Moonies or Hari Krishna cults welcoming a new potential recruit. Will he simply surrender now and pass on the real work of government to the Republican apparatchiks?
The stock market thinks so! On Wednesday it soared almost by 300 points, and repeated this gain on Thursday, setting a DJIA record! Pharmaceuticals are way up, as higher drug prices loom for Medicaid and Medicare. Stocks of the pipelines and major environmental polluters are soaring, from oil and gas to coal, mining and forestry, expecting U.S. environmental leadership to be as dead under Trump as it was under Obama and his push for the TPP and TTIP (with its fines for any government daring to impose standards that cost these companies money). On the bright side, these "trade" agreements to enable corporations to block public laws protecting the environment, consumers and society at large are now presumably dead.
For now, personalities are policy. A problem with this is that anyone who runs for president is in it partly for applause. That was Carter's weak point, leading him to cave into Democratic apparatchiks in 1974. It looks like Trump may be a similar susceptibility. He wants to be loved, and the Republican lobbyists are offering plenty of applause if only he will turn to them and break his campaign promises in the way that Obama did in 2008. It would undo his hope to be a great president and champion of the working class that was his image leading up to November 8.
The fight for the Democratic Party's future (dare I say "soul"?)
In her Wednesday morning post mortem speech, Hillary made a bizarre request for young people (especially young women) to become politically active as Democrats after her own model. What made this so strange is that the Democratic National Committee has done everything it can to discourage millennials from running. There are few young candidates -- except for corporate and Wall Street Republicans running as Blue Dog Democrats. The left has not been welcome in the party for a decade -- unless it confines itself only to rhetoric and demagogy, not actual content. For Hillary's DNC coterie the problem with millennials is that they are not shills for Wall Street. The treatment of Bernie Sanders is exemplary. The DNC threw down the gauntlet.
Instead of a love fest within the Democratic Party's ranks, the blame game is burning. The Democrats raised a reported $182 million dollars running up to the election. But when from Russ Feingold in Wisconsin and other candidates in Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania asked for help, Hillary monopolized it all for TV ads, leaving these candidates in the lurch. The election seemed to be all about her, about personality and identity politics, not about the economic issues paramount in most voters' minds.
Six months ago the polls showed her $1 billion spent on data polling, TV ads and immense staff of sycophants to have been a vast exercise in GIGO. From May to June the Democratic National Committee (DNC) saw polls showing Bernie Sanders beating Trump, but Hillary losing. Did the Democratic leadership really prefer to lose with Hillary than win behind him and his social democratic reformers?
Hillary doesn't learn. Over the weekend she claimed that her analysis showed that FBI director Comey's reports "rais[ing] doubts that were groundless, baseless," stopped her momentum. This was on a par with the New York Times analysis that had showed her with an 84 percent probability of winning last Tuesday. She still hasn't admitted that her analysis was inaccurate.
What is the Democratic Party's former constituency of labor and progressive reformers to do? Are they to stand by and let the party be captured in Hillary's wake by Robert Rubin's Goldman Sachs-Citigroup gang that backed her and Obama?
If the party is to be recaptured, now is the moment to move. The 2016 election sounded the death knell for the identity politics. Its aim was to persuade voters not to think of their identity in economic terms, but to think of themselves as women or as racial and ethnic groups first and foremost, not as having common economic interests. This strategy to distract voters from economic policies has obviously failed.
It did not work with women. In Florida, only 51 percent of white women are estimated to have voted for Hillary. It didn't even work very well in ethnic Hispanic precincts. They too were more concerned about their own job opportunities.