America is now nearly seven years into the era of Hope and Change, which we were promised would stop the rise of the oceans and begin to heal our planet, and thus far almost no one seems pleased with the results. It’s not just those awful “right track-wrong track” polling numbers, or the discontented popular culture’s output of angry hip-hop tracks and big-budget dystopian zombie movies, or the slumping stock markets and sluggish economy and the seeming disintegration of any semblance of a world order, or the stubbornness of nature, or the conspicuous lack of happy talk anywhere except the White House press office, but it also manifests itself in a sort of insanity on both the left and the right of political spectrum.
The craziness is currently most conspicuous on the left, what with a self-described socialist surging in the Democratic Party’s presidential race and the most godawful woman ever desperately clinging to her presumed front-runner status while a criminal investigation of her outrageous e-mail practices suspiciously proceeds, despite the obvious politicization of the Justice Department, and all the revolting students on college campuses across the country suddenly making the most outrageous and expensive demands, and the promised post-racial era resulting in a bi-partisan repudiation of the policies that had happily led to a decline in the deaths of minorities, and the partisan press more preoccupied with whatever inconsequential scandals they can come up with about some Republican nominee. By now even the news-averse people in the middle have gotten wind of it, we suppose, and share that unease which keep showing up in all those polls.
That self-described socialist’s chances of winning the nomination of one of America’s two major political parties seem pretty good at the moment, given that his only plausible opposition is the most godawful woman ever. It’s not just the suspiciously on-going investigation about her outrageous e-mail practices, or her incompetence and dishonesty and disastrous results in her handling of the terrorist attack on an American consulate in Libya, or her utter lack of accomplishments and Grand Central Station-sized collection of baggage, but her even more damning-to-Democrat-thinking associations with Wall Street and billionaires and the boards of those confounded corporations. The current craziness of the left cannot abide such corporate heresies, even from a bona fide female and one who stood by him during all his sex scandals in order to save women’s reproductive rights from the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, and we clearly have arrived at a moment when being a self-described socialist no longer disqualifies someone for a Democratic nomination.
Even such a once-radical self-designation as “socialist” might no longer suffice on many of America’s college campuses, where there’s suddenly a spate of protests over systemic racism and a “culture of rape” and “micro-aggressions” and such. Apparently some redneck shouted a racial slur from a pickup at the University of Missouri, some otherwise exquisitely politically correct professor at Yale University was insufficiently offended by the prospect of some frat boy donning an offensive Halloween costume, and suddenly students across the country are demanding free tuition and forgiveness of more than one trillion dollars of debt and that their college years be so care-free that not one confront them when with sort of reality. The argument seems to be that America’s colleges and universities are hellholes of pickup truck-drving rednecks and gang-raping frat boys, and that the taxpayer should be obliged to pay for every citizen’s admission to this elite Democratic indoctrination program, and that perfect harmony on Earth is just a few more hashtag campaigns and lavishly-funded diversity programs away, and that surely just a few guillotined billionaires could pay for it all. How this will play with those uninformed folks in the middle who are paying off their junior college wages with a plumbing job remains to be seen, but we expect the partisan press will do its best.
That same partisan press will prefer to emphasize the Republicans’ crazy right-wing insistence on border enforcement and some modicum of sanity on fiscal issues and an old-fashioned notion of constitutional order and a general preference for the First Amendment over political correctness, all of which poll well, while overlooking a more worrisome craziness on the right. One smart fellow over at The Wall Street Journal noticed, though, and his think-piece was headlined “Populism on the Rise in GOP Race for President.” The author noticed the same anti-Wall Street and anti-big business rhetoric in the past Republican presidential debate that has characterized the the recent Democratic debates, as well as some similarly strong anti-free-trade sentiment, as well as some ideas about the Federal Reserve and the gold standard and other arcane issues that differ from the latest consensus of conservative economists. Throw in the fact that the two front-runners in the Republican race have never held any elective office, which seems to be their foremost credentials, and that the billionaire businessman who might yet have the advantage is a past Democrat who unabashedly loves eminent domain and bankruptcy loopholes and a pay-for-play political system, and there’s an undeniable craziness occurring on the right as well.
For the most part, at least, the Republicans’ and the rest of the right’s annoyance with crony capitalism has more to do with the cronyism than the capitalism. In the last debate most most of the criticism was for the Dodd-Frank law and hyper-regulation in particular, and the bail-outs the press loves to credit for the survival of the American economy were damned mostly for bailing out some and not others, and that increasingly irrelevant governor from the swing state of Ohio was roundly booed for saying he would have bailed out some and not others and For now he “populism” that the Wall Street Journal frets about seems to prefer a more red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalism that most investors have become accustomed to, which is fine by us, but we hope it won’t succumb to populism’s historically characteristic animosity toward for-profit commerce in general. Not at a time when even much of that uninformed middle has retirement accounts and pension plans pegged to the stock market, and when what’s left of western civilization is dependent on for-profit commerce, as always. We’re inclined to latest consensus of conservative economists about the Federal Reserve and the gold standard and other issues, too, and worry that our conservative brethren are more inclined to make up their minds because of some instinctive revulsion to the Democratic busy-bodies who are trying to shut down their coal mines and force them to bake homosexual wedding cakes, so we don’t count on the Republican primaries turning out well.
We can count on the Democratic primaries turning out badly, though, and we expect that the college kids and the popular culture and general consensus will be increasingly dissatisfied.
— Bud Norman