Whom Do You Want on Your Side When Trump Is Gone?

Before long the Right will need to reunify, so let’s not burn any bridges.

How is the Right going to work together as a coalition after Trump?

In short: If you want to win, you need allies. And if you want to survive losses, you need friends. You always will.

The second group for whom there is a rational explanation is those who emerged for the first time as voices in the Trump era, and fear that they won’t be able to continue if a New Normal sets in. Trump was the first leader of the Republican party in my lifetime that a large segment of the conservative commentariat could not stomach at all. Driving a lot of established and talented people into opposition, or at least personal opposition of the party leader, created a vacuum: There were still pro-Trump messages to be carried, and too few people to carry them. As in any era, some of the people who jumped on those opportunities are shrewd folks with something worthwhile to say. But others just got jobs because jobs needed doing, like the NFL replacement players in 1987 who found themselves out of work again when the strike ended.

If you didn’t have what it takes to find an audience before 2015, and have been able to do so only because too few of the leading people in conservative media were willing to say the things needed to defend Trump across the board, then your worst fear will be the end of the internal division of the coalition. If civil war is the only way you can stay employed, you will want it to last forever.

 

Trump the European Nationalist Puts America Last

President Trump, in concert with several European leaders, including those of Hungary, Poland, Austria and Italy, is intent on dehumanizing immigrants and refugees. The aim is to equate them with terrorists and criminals ready to “infest” — Trump’s word — American and European civilization, defined as a threatened white Judeo-Christian preserve.

It’s a consistent policy buttressed by insinuation and lies about the supposed threat, and designed to manipulate fear and nationalism as election-winning emotions in a time of rapid technological change, large migrant flows and uncertainty. Vermin infest, not humans.

Every utterance of Trump on immigration is meant to conflate immigration with danger. This is a direct repudiation of America’s distinguishing essence — its constant reinvention through immigrant churn.

The immigrant brings violence. The immigrant brings terror. The immigrant’s humanity is lesser or nonexistent. These are tropes about “the other” whose capacity to galvanize mobs, and wreak havoc, was proved in the first half of the 20th century. Trump does not hesitate to use them.

.. Viktor Orban, the right-wing Hungarian leader, who has said that “every single migrant poses a public security and terror risk.”

.. The Hungarian parliament has just passed legislation that would throw people in jail for providing assistance to asylum seekers and migrants.

.. Matteo Salvini, the rightist Italian interior minister

.. Before taking office, he said Italy was packed with “drug dealers, rapists, burglars,” whom he wants to send home.

.. the destabilizing impact of globalization on Western democracies; stagnant middle-income wages; growing inequality; fear of an automated future

..  the ease of mob mobilization through fear-mongering and scapegoating on social media.

.. Trump is strong because of a global nationalist lurch; that his feral instincts make him dangerous; and that he may well win a second term, just as Orban has now won four terms.

To ridicule Trump will achieve little absent a compelling social and economic alternative that addresses anxiety. The Democratic Party, for now, is nowhere near that.

.. Trump likes to go for the jugular. He sees opportunity in a Europe that is split down the middle between nations like Hungary and Poland that make no attempt to sugarcoat their anti-immigrant nativism and states like Germany that have not forgotten that the pursuit of racially and religiously homogeneous societies lay at the core of the most heinous crimes of the last century.

.. Orban is the most formidable politician in Europe today. It’s no coincidence that Trump called him last weekend. Their aims overlap.

..  Trump tweeted this week that “Crime in Germany is way up” and that allowing immigrants in “all over Europe” has “strongly and violently changed their culture.”

..  Trump (whose stats on German crime were wrong) backs Orban against Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany in the continuing bid to make racism and xenophobia the new normal of Western societies.

.. the greatest danger is within. A two-term Trump presidency would likely corrode American institutions and values to the point at which they could scarcely be resurrected.

Generation Y Takes Over

But immigration is a subset of a larger global problem. The dominant economic event of our era is the Great Recession, which began in 2007 and ended for the U.S. in 2009. Its status as a “great” economic downturn is attributed to its long aftermath of unemployment and, more important, underemployment.

As the U.S. and European economies failed to achieve pre-recession growth levels, which exacerbated social anxieties, the elites produced an explanation. They called it “the new normal.”

.. The new normal” theory, which in a wink became conventional wisdom among conventional economists and pundits, exists mainly to absolve them—and Barack Obama —of responsibility for weaker growth’s dire effects on national standards of living. What the theory failed to capture is that the new normal creates angry have-nots.

.. Voters everywhere are rebelling against the new normal. They won’t concede its implicit acceptance of flattened opportunities for younger Americans or Europeans still in their prime working years, who don’t have sinecures explaining to everyone else why this is as good as it will ever get. Increasingly, they are voting into office political outliers—from Trump to Macron to Kurz.

.. Mr. Trudeau’s economic plan should be seen as a proxy for what the next Democratic presidential nominee is likely to run on. Influenced by former Obama economic adviser Larry Summers’s theories on “secular stagnation,” Mr. Trudeau is making massive outlays on infrastructure repair and modernization to revive demand inside Canada. 

.. Donald Trump is an infrastructure guy, too, but his path out of the new normal’s long-term trap runs mainly through regulatory relief and reforming the U.S. tax system.

.. U.S. firms kept 71% of their foreign-earned profits abroad, “benefiting other nations’ workers.” What would be the effect, Mr. Hassett asked, if for the next eight years, those profits were repatriated and reinvested here through a tax regime designed to promote more capital investment in the domestic economy? Incomes would rise.

We need to prepare for abnormal being the new normal, politics-wise

Trump’s ascension to the White House feels more like the beginning of something than the end of it to me.  The instability of our long-standing institutions, coupled with the creeping anxiety caused by a steady drumbeat of terrorist attacks — the latest coming in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve — and a sense that the American Dream is fading away, creates a political climate in which nontraditional politicians promising the world hold massive appeal.  In short: I think we’ll see more Trump-like figures in politics, not less. And that a return to some sort of normal never really comes.

.. As the 2016 election showed, pollsters’ ability to accurately determine what the electorate will look like is weaker than at any time in recent memory. There are lots of technical reasons for that difficulty — and lots of smart people in the polling industry working to figure out solutions. But for now, best to proceed with caution when it comes to polls and what they do or don’t tell us.