18.7.17

THE BLACK SWAN IS ON THE POND.

Matthew Continetti, "The political class never expected Donald Trump to become president."

There's more at work, according to W. R. Mead.
The critical mass of support for Trump came from those who saw many of the defects which energize his opponents—but who nevertheless believed that this man, with all his flaws, was a better choice than any of the slick nonentities and earnest wonks who would labor to maintain the status quo.

Too many Democrats think that the Trump scandals, pushed to their logical conclusion, will bring an end to troubles that have seen the party sink to its lowest national ebb since the 1920s. By personalizing the problem, by thinking of Trump as a uniquely unscrupulous, uniquely insightful, but also uniquely incompetent demagogue, Democrats construct a reality for themselves in which his impeachment, or at least his humiliation, will leave upper middle class technocrats back securely in control of the regulatory state, the haute educational establishment and the media that really count. The rebels, abashed at the demonstrated unfitness of their leader, will disperse, the districts will demobilize, the Hunger Games will relaunch, and life in the Capital will go on as before.

Perhaps unfortunately, life is not that simple. The problem the Democrats face has never been the Republican Establishment, the Tea Party, or the Trump insurgency. The Republican disarray of 2017 is nothing new; Republicans do not know how to fix health care or to solve the fiscal problems of local and state governments without raising taxes or cutting services anymore than Democrats do. What drives Republican success isn’t public confidence in Republican policy ideas, but a public belief that given a choice between a party committed to the status quo and a party open at least to reforming it, dumb reformers are a better choice than clever custodians of the status quo.
Unfortunately, the dumb reformers too often confine their reform to the conventional process stuff, neglecting more imaginative approaches that might have more potential.
Our society is becoming more dysfunctional; neither Democrats nor Republicans have real answers, so our politics is becoming more embittered, and quackery flourishes in the absence of serious reform.

Meanwhile, we note with alarm that more and more of America’s energy goes into the endless process of two year presidential campaigns immediately followed by nonstop relitigation by scandal. We now cluster around our screens to catch the latest scandal mini-scoop the way we used to look at Iowa polling numbers before the caucus. Our intellectual and political energy is being consumed by the ephemeral at ever greater rates even as we run low on time to address genuinely vital issues. We are thinking about horse races, not the historic challenges that the United States faces at home and abroad.
Perhaps there are encouraging signs somewhere, being put into place by people who aren't forever tied to those screens. Unfortunately, the default setting for the political class and the correspondents appears to be that if it isn't happening in D.C., it isn't happening.  There might be a deeper meaning to Mr Continetti's closing sentence.  "Turns out, there's another hermetic bubble, one that stretches from West Forty-Third Street in Manhattan to the corner of Seventeenth and I streets in D.C. It didn't expect Donald Trump to win, it dismissed any discouraging information to the contrary, and it did not, in the words of Pat Toomey, 'expect to be in this situation.' And if we didn't expect to be where we are today, how on Earth can we know where we'll be tomorrow?"

Emergence is like that.

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