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19.12.16

Vengeance Is Mine

The Second Coming of Reagan
When this column is published on Monday morning here on the Far Side, it will still be Sunday night for a major portion of the readership here, but it will be in all cases less than 24 hours from one of the most significant moments in modern political history - and certainly in modern histrionics.

By Tuesday morning, all things being equal, Donald J. Trump will be confirmed as the 45th president of the United States, and all hell will break loose.

Whether you support or revile Trump matters little.  The fact is that very few people have any real idea who he is and where he stands on a wide variety of issues.  With most politicians, one has a history of their voting record in office, a body of speeches and actions, and a relatively coherent history to go on.  With Trump, the world has none of that.

All we really have with Trump is his record of making money at a number of business ventures and a lot of campaign rhetoric that, given the long history of politics, means little when compared to what politicians actually do and achieve in public life.

Being a political atheist, I come down on the side of caution, which I believe is a rational and reasonable position when dealing with anyone in public life.  In my lifetime, I have never seen a politician ever live up to their promises.  What I have seen a lot of is people projecting their hopes and dreams onto certain charismatic individuals, based on little more than what religion offers: faith.  In fact, the most common outcome of elections is deep and bitter disappointment.

One need look no further than the vainglorious "hope" and empty "change" that Barack Obama offered.  In 2008, he was hailed as nothing short of the Second Coming - a modern political savior who would end racial discrimination and finally equal the playing field.  Instead, the country ended up in 2016 with deeper and more entrenched divides, and even a great number of US black people wondering what the hell happened to the Great Black Hope.

Politics is like an abusive spouse.  We keep thinking this time she's changed, this time she'll be different, only to find ourselves beat and battered for another term.  Despite centuries of history, we never seem to see the light that nothing changes and all our hopes and dreams end up in the same place - the hospital with friends and family clucking their tongues and wagging their heads saying, "When are you going to learn?"

I, for one, embrace candidates that I think will bring the most chaos and disappointment, since my hope is that he or she will finally be the straw that breaks the camel's back and we can collectively get over this love/hate relationship with politics and put an end to the deadliest, most abusive addiction humanity has ever suffered: government.  Alas!  That day still seems as far off as it did decades, even centuries, ago.

One thing is certain: Donald Trump is the most bombastic rhetorician the US has had since Theodore Roosevelt.  So far, the only major effect his election has had has been to push the dollar to new market highs, which ironically makes US exports unattractive, while making imported goods seem cheap and attractive - more of less the exact opposite of what he has said he wants.

To grant him the benefit of the doubt, several large companies have cancelled plans to move their factories out of the country, and others have announced intentions to move their factories back to the US.  This means saving or adding jobs that pay decent wages and support the middle class, which is the life-blood of any thriving economy.  A hearty clap on the back goes to Trump for that quick bit of PR.  Well done.

The problem remains, though, that a significant section of the US has been irreversibly brainwashed into servitude in exchange for scraps from the government table and "safe zones" for crying "nobody loves me, everybody hates me."  These children in adult bodies are beyond hope, and they are obviously a significant segment of the society.  They will never shut up because they know of no other way to behave than to demand conformity, which they mistakenly call diversity.

The biggest change I see coming is not in the System, but in the System's focus.  Trump will likely shift the focus of the protection racket called government from "Finance" to "Production."  This is not entirely bad, as Production is the basis of Capitalism.  For far too long, the focus has been on protecting the Financial sector, which produces nothing and functions largely as a parasite on the arse of society.  To the extent that Trump is successful in this effort, it will greatly enhance the pocket-money situation in the US middle class.

What I don't foresee is a true "swamp draining."  For those unfamiliar with this particularly American political catch-phrase, it is often used by politicians who promise to "go to (insert name of political body) and clean up the corruption."  I have seen a lot of "swamp drainers" come and go, and the primary result is that the System chews them up and spits them out, with some like Ron Paul being marginalized to the point of invisibility until they give up and go away.

In order for Trump to achieve the things that got him elected, he will need the Congress on his side.  Republican control of both houses of Congress notwithstanding, he must compromise with dozens of factions within the party to achieve even a fraction of what he claims to want.  Most importantly, he needs the Federal Reserve on his side, since it controls the economy and is a private corporation with only nominal oversight by Congress.

On top of those two major hurdles, Trump will need to pack the judiciary with like-minded judges, which will be near impossible, since (again) the Congress will need to approve the appointments and will want their own agendas met in exchange.

In the end, Trump is virtually powerless to achieve real change.  The System always wins.  It is designed that way.  Despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, about the only real change that he will, and has already achieved is to marginalize the Bush and Clinton crime families, but even there, short of prosecuting and jailing (even executing for treason) those folks, he has only sidelined them for a time.  Case in point is the current recounts, Electoral College drama and future efforts sure to follow.  For his part, Trump has already displayed a lack of stomach for that fight, as it would most likely consume his entire tenure in office - or at least the first term - though it would certainly be the greatest service he could perform for the nation, and the world at large.

In any event, I place very low expectations on the coming Trump years.  This will mean that I am either pleasantly surprised, spot on or minimally disappointed.  I would give anything in four years to eat my words, but I find no reason to run out and buy seasoning packets to make them more palatable.

Though I spent half of the Reagan Revolution living outside the US, I did see an economic benefit from those years.  The trade-off, though, was a culture so brilliantly captured by Oliver Stone's film Wall Street.  It seems Reagan forgot to corral the Financial sector before turning loose the Production folks.  If Trump goes this route, we are in for more of the same-old, Part 2.

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