One of our dinner guests, a Parisian, discussing the politics of France, said something like “we feel like we are all waiting.” She explained that the economy is doing will by people with jobs, and the French safety net is strong enough to quell serious problems among the unemployed. But no one is inspired, and the various parties that have dominated French politics are moribund; they haven’t had a new idea in a long time. And so “we are waiting.” The conversation moved on, but that stuck with me. Waiting for what? I also feel like I’m waiting, at least for Trumpian Motion, that hurricane of corruption, lies and intentional cruelty, to subside. But that’s not what our guest was talking about, and it doesn’t explain my feelings either.

In context, I think the problem she described is a feeling of disgust for the French political parties. Francois Hollande, the previous president and a Socialist, was a profound disappointment and didn’t run for reelection. His successor finished a dismal fourth in the first round. The conservative, Francois Filon, was mired in a make-work scandal for his family and finished third. The two who survived to the second round were Marine Le Pen, the right-wing crazy, and Emmanuel Macron, a rich man who started his own party, La Republique En Marche (France On the March, shades of MAGA). Macron won in a landslide, and Le Pen’s party seems to have fallen to schism.

Macron is “business-friendly”, meaning neoliberalish in French terms. He has pushed reforms to the labor laws that are loathed by workers and the subject of massive resistance. Nobody except the rich thinks this will fix anything. The other parties seem irrelevant to our guest. That means there is little to look forward to on the part of the large French left. Something has to change, and she’s waiting.

I too think our party system is moribund. Neither legacy party commands 30% of the voters. The last election was a contest between a competent Democrat and a corrupt cruel liar. We don’t have majority rule here as they do in France, so the corrupt cruel liar was elected.

Oddly in a recent column in the New York Times, David Brooks seems to recognize that this is a problem, and argues for multi-member House districts and ranked-choice voting. Brooks thinks something needs to change, and so do I. We can’t go on like this. I mean that in a broader sense than Brooks, of course. I think we can’t keep going with a system that allows the minority to run the country, especially a racist minority, a misogynist minority, a fundamentalist minority, a cruel and stupid minority. Oops. I called them stupid. We aren’t supposed to call them stupid. It’s as bad as saying rat-fucker.

This is a huge problem. I’ll just address two parts of the Constitution that are problematic. One is our voting rules, the other our worship of private property. Aside from Republican skill at voter suppression gerrymandering and maybe worse, there are Constitutional provisions. Every state has two senators. The 22 smallest states have a total population less than California using Census Bureau estimates for 2017. They have 44 senators. Using the filibuster, it only takes 21 States to stop any legislation. Even without the filibuster, it takes 26 states to stop any legislation. The smallest 26 states have a population of about 57 million, less than the population of California and the New York metro area. Under winner take all rules, the minority can control the country with say 20 million voters, about 6% of the population. How many people in the US are like the people who turn out for Trump’s rallies?

Now consider the protection of property. One central feature of the Constitution is that it is designed to protect property rights. The most obvious parts relate to the protection of the interests of slavers, starting with the Three-Fifths Clause. Doubters should read this article. It also makes a broader point about protection of property, and says that the slavers had a disproportionate effect on US public policy in its early years. On this view, we have always been governed by a minority.

The Fifth Amendment is another obvious property protection: the Takings Clause bars governments from taking property without “just compensation”. All the rights of the slavers and the thinly populated states are protected by the provisions regarding amendments to the Constitution which make it possible for the tiny states and slave states to kill any amendment.

This love of property has become an obsession with Americans. “You Can’t Tell Me What To Do With My Property” should be the National Motto. One tiny bit of evidence of this is the ugliness of most US cities and towns, because people have no interest in the way their communities look if it means they can’t hang ugly signs and pave the countryside to build a Walgreen’s on every corner not occupied by a Taco Bell.

Another manifestation is the idea that taxation is theft as libertarians and not a few others say. Not that it really matters what people think, because Congress is afraid to tax anyone ever. In fact, historically Congress does what the filthy rich want and little else. Because, after all, protecting property is the point of the Constitution.

To top all that off, a large part of the population despises the libtards. No one knows how big that group is, because no one polls the question in that form. In recent polling, the percentage identifying as conservative is trending down while the percentage identifying as liberal is trending up, but the former leads the latter by 9%; moderates are also slipping down. At the end of 2017, conservatives and moderates were each at 35%, while liberals were at 26%. Of course, the operational definitions of all three groups have badly slipped to the right over the years. It doesn’t much matter right now, the conservatives can block any change.

Even if the Democrats start winning, which given their allegiance to neoliberalism is not a sure thing, the crazy right has made it clear that they will howl and throw feces at any action the Democrats might try and we have no reason to think the Democrats won’t cave and do the very least possible as they have done for decades.

So, here we are. Stuck. Interesting question: How long will the majority consent to be governed by the minority? Famous quote from Herb Stein: “If something can’t go on forever, it won’t.” I’m waiting to see how that happens.

44 replies
  1. bg says:

    When Bobo plugs for ranked choice voting, I guess we have reached some new measure of something. This is so relevant to what is happening with elections in CA and NM right now. Thanks for the musings.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Thoughtful comment.

    I think exhaustion promotes stasis, and neoliberals encourage it. It’s one of the preferred outcomes from less secure employment, wages and benefits. The resulting mental and physical exhaustion leaves the political playing field empty except for the neolibtards.

    Perhaps we would all benefit from another water, coffee or bottle of beaujolais nouveau and a night’s rest on the hammock. Unless the Don presses the wrong button, we can come at it again tomorrow.

  3. Grandma with a Memory says:

    Habitus is with me. I grew up learning that having public education, public housing, public transportation (including roads) and other humane services paid for by the public in proportion to their income/wealth was what created a civilized nation, an educated populace, an able work-force. Can you guess how old I am?
    I’m really having a hard time with our current situation. I too am waiting. I worry about our grandchildren – mine personally, and everyone else’s. I’ve vowed to stay alive till their futures are secure, but I’m getting tired.

    Went to see RGB recently – inspiring despite her judicial lapse in lambasting you-know-who. As soon as my shoulders heal from installing a raised bed organic vegetable garden (really raised – I’m that old), I’m going to start an exercise program. Not sure it can be as vigorous as RGB’s, but it’s a start.

    All this written with sad humor.

    • bmaz says:

      I think a lot of us feel that way. Welcome to Emptywheel Grandma,  come visit and comment often.

    • Ed Walker says:

      I suspect we are of an age, we share the same habitus,, even though it has seemed less useful in understanding our word today.

      • Grandma with a Memory says:

        habitus,, even though it has seemed less useful in understanding our word today.

        Unfortunately, I know that. That’s why I read your thoughtful series and am very thankful for the insights you bring.

        The Habitus explanation, in particular, made me realize why I’ve been in denial all these years, helped me stop feeling guilty for being so clueless, and to wake up and pay attention.



        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          If  you are able to move, even in a chair, I highly recommend that you start with: http://www.essentrics.com

          Check out their ‘Aging Backwards’ and also the ‘Forever Painless’ videos, which are also on YouTube. (Also, PBS if you have a smart TV.)  Trust me, I’ve become expert at all this stuff, and these (plus tai chi) are the most helpful things that I’ve found; the founder is a science and anatomy geek, in contact with surgeons and physical therapists.  Even if you can only do it in a chair, start some of these – some as short as 10 min.  Start today, even if you can only move half an inch.

          While we are all waiting, it is important to keep as fit as we can.  We’re going to need our energy for when things start to shift.

          • Grandma with a Memory says:

            Thank you for the information and links. I’ll check them out.  I’m way ambulatory.  It’s just that my joints are not as elastic as they used to be, but I push on anyway and get into trouble.


  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Another gift to women, maternal and infant health care, and personal liberty from the Supreme Court. It vacates DC Circuit ruling about immigrant women in federal custody having a right to an abortion.

    Anyone wonder why the GOP violated all precedent and refused to act on Merrick Garland’s nomination? Red meat for the base. Gooper millionaires like Broidy/Trump, on the other hand, can go anywhere on the planet to find an abortion for their mistresses.

  5. DrFunguy says:

    The right wing propaganda has worked so well that a majority self-identify as ‘conservative’ even though a majority says they support ‘liberal’ positions on universal health insurance, abortion rights, and many other issues…

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    And the Colorado baker, operating a retail establishment open to the public, is allowed to discriminate against a gay couple because providing them a good or service would violate his right to free expression.

    Every business involves creative expression.  Capitalism is supposedly driven by “creative” destruction – although it is only creative if you survive the destruction and prosper from it. A tiny percentage of those subject to it. 

    The Court is driving a truck through anti-discrimination laws.  This supposedly narrow decision is an invitation for a host of cases to be appealed to it, creating discriminatory chaos in the real world, pending the Court finding a case or series of cases it will use to render a more definitive judgment.

    The Court’s and Kennedy’s dicta about deciding all such cases with tolerance and avoiding indignity is an empty gesture.  The vacuum will be filled with intolerance, indignity and discrimination if Kennedy resigns and allows Trump and McConnell to choose his successor. That much could not be clearer.

    • Ed Walker says:

      I am now waiting for Miss Manners, oops, I mean Anthony Kennedy, to tell us the proper level of respect for Christian Homophobia, and soon enough, Christian Racism, Christian Misogyny (aka Christian Patriarchy), and the rest of the Christian/Trumpian virtues.

    • Trip says:

      Yeah, the ruling was absurd. I can almost see it with the photographer because then they’d have to participate, as in being there for the ceremony. But a person making a cake? Nope. A cake doesn’t represent religious beliefs unless it is an actual religious cake. What if a wedding planner arranged for the cake for a gay couple? Will the baker melt like the witch in the wizard of Oz, while not knowing?  This case has larger implications, no doubt. It’s just a cake.

    • Sabrina says:

      The floodgates have been opened on this one. With the frothy far-right (great term btw!) insisting on absolute unfettered freedom of speech (while making the case against it almost every time they say something hate-filled or prejudiced)- this case will be spun as individual “freedom” having prevailed. Problem is, there’s a difference between freedom “from” and freedom “to”. This precedent has swung in the direction of “freedom to…” (take your pick, here- freedom to refuse to serve a customer though you are a public merchant, to claim religious rights infringement though the customers could have been accommodated another way that would not have caused *you* undue harm, etc). Much of what the alt-right is touting as freedoms falls under this category- freedom to bear arms, etc.

      But at the same time, when there are groups with which they disagree, they don’t care to protect people who need freedom *from*, for example, discrimination or harassment (which are euphemistically named religions freedom and free speech, respectively).

      As a rule of thumb, it is logical to look at these disputes through the guise of who will be harmed most given either option. The baker could not convincingly have argued that making a wedding cake (or having someone else in the bakery make it, as a workaround) would hurt him more than a couple who are unable to purchase a wedding cake and are made to feel like second class citizens who can’t purchase a critical part of what is arguably the most important day of their lives.

      [Side note, but one that’s worth pointing out: a lot of people look at Christianity as the cause of this. As someone who is not religious but am close to people who are, the most accurate interpretations of Christianity involve inclusivity and selflessness as core teachings. Sexual orientation, skin color, ethnicity, etc should NEVER be a reason to deny someone their unalienable rights, because it is taught that humanity is inherently kind. There seems to be many evangelicals who refute New Testament teachings of kindness to all regardless of circumstance; however, bigotry and intolerance under the guise of Christianity is not the true essence of the essential tenets of the religion. Just my 2c, but as a Christian, the baker should have found a way to serve the couple, and viewed his discomfort with pride, knowing he was acting in accordance with his religious tenets and putting the welfare of others above his own.]

  7. Tom Doehne says:

    The neoliberal economic system broke the American system of ‘prosperity for everyone’. The bottom 80+% hasn’t shared in economic growth since the late ’70s — early ’80s. Of course there’s going to be unrest and a loss of faith in the system – there should be, it’s broken. That’s why we see resurgent fascism/Trumpism, a rising openness to communism/socialism and a loss of faith in political parties’ elites. Neither party will really attack the problems head-on, because one is pro-business and the other is led by its pro-business faction.

    I agree, the “divine right of private property” contributes to our problems. It has metamorphosed into something more sinister, however – the idea that we should be governed by businesses rather than a democratic state. The proponents call it ‘privatization’, but it’s really just moving government from one set of institutions to another. Over the last 30 years, we’ve seen pieces of the judiciary, legislature, and executive get moved to the corporate sector. Civil disputes are now mainly settled in private ‘courts’ that favor business – by arbitration – nullifying the 7th Amendment. Many legislators, especially at state level, no longer draft legislation – instead they let ALEC draft it, shifting that legislative function to a non-state corporate-controlled institution. Schools, prisons, and even chunks of military functions have been shifted into corporate control (not to mention Blackwater). It would help us to clearly understand what’s going on; it’s not a struggle between government and private citizens, it’s a struggle over two sets of institutions over who will govern.

    We’re choosing between territorial states and corporate institutions.

    • joejoejoe says:

      Long standing norms related to usury (limits to how much profit is just) and honesty (cheating your neighbor is wrong) have been abandoned. Global capital has no neighbors allowing for arbitrage of every local regulation and convention. The unethical thing in modern business is not maximizing profit for your shareholders/fund partners/little oligarchs of the future. Most of what is wrong comes from thinking in terms of winners and losers instead of neighbors in a society.

  8. Zirc says:

    The Democratic nominee has won the popular vote in 6 of the last 7 presidential elections. If we just limit ourselves to the 2000s, democrats have won 4 of the last 5 popular votes. Yet in that same time the GOP nominee has taken office in 3 of the last 5. You point out the problem with the senate, which, by dint of the constitution is heavily weighted to smaller, more rural states. Even in the House, and even without the gerrymandering that resulted from the disaster of 2010, urban districts are natural vote sinks through which urban and minority voting powers are minimized. In essence, that small-town Trump voter we’re all supposed to be listening to because he’s been ignored has actually been in power all along. Or, more accurately, has held the keys to power for the McConnells and Ryans of the country. How long can the country sustain this lack of balance and democratic fairness? The competing interests of the framers have long been overtaken by newer competing interests of which they could have never conceived. It may be time to seriously rethink and retool the constitution.

    • Rugger9 says:

      I suppose a retooling is in order, but are you in favor for the Article V solution making the rounds that is certain to be under the thumbs of those very same states you complain about here?  That is how the new Constitution would be made, by state delegation and ratification and I do not see any advantage to the method if this is the issue at hand.  Note also that despite the solemn promises to the contrary, nothing whatsoever restricts the agenda of such a convention once it starts.  Say hello to the Koch brothers’, etc. et al fondest wishes put into an untouchable legal framework.

      Think, please.

      • zirc says:

        I have thought about it. Much.  And you are correct in all aspects, except your assumption that I have not thought about it. The only thing I can see out of this particular conundrum is to ride a wave that has put “libtards” in control and then have that convention. Such a wave is possible this fall, but not probable. Meanwhile, I included the post-2000 note in my comment to suggest that a sizable slice of our population knows nothing but the sense of the majority repeatedly having its will overridden.  That is not healthy. And if it doesn’t beat those young folks down, it will heat them up, possibly in ways that are not entirely peaceful.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Agree, and would also point out that the Federalist Society over the short term has ‘won’, but by strict constitutionalist interpretations, they are accelerating the very problems Ed Walker points to — particularly ‘red state’ minority demographics, conservative judicial rulings, and outdated economic assumptions.  And by protecting property over the public wellbeing, they have inadvertently handed our collective asses to those who don’t give a rat’s ass about the US, apart from it being a good place to buy up property and store ‘wealth’.

          Add onto this mess the birth dates of too damn many senators: Orrin Hatch, Grassley, Richard Shelby, (and even DiFi) in early 1930s.  They’ve been in the Senate for 30 – 40 years, during which the blue state populations have burgeoned, economic inequality has exploded, pollution has grown exponentially.

          These people are blind to the resentments, frustrations, and contempt that their actions and privilege have aroused.

          As for property protection behind the purpose of the Takings Clause, as well as the Constitution: that breaks down in an era of global capital, anonymous shell corporations, and ‘instant’ communication.  The irony of all their vaunted efforts to protect (mostly their) property  is stupefying when it manifests as offshore hedge funds snapping up farmland, wineries, and lakeshore property across the US,.  ‘Paradox’ doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.

          Waiting, indeed.

  9. Rugger9 says:

    It’s similar to the “balance” Kennedy tried to strike with the Citizen’s United decision, claiming without actual evidence (and subsequently proved quite wrong) that contributions do not necessarily lead to corruption or quid pro quos. His language was more elegant, of course.

    This is the camel’s nose under the tent, so to speak. So, let’s do the market thing and boycott, name and shame.

  10. Ed Walker says:

    @Tom Doehne


    Welcome. I agree with both comments. Polanyi says that capitalism must expand to force all operations into the market system. He singled out land, labor and money as fictitious commodities that could not e brought into the system without destroying their usefulness. Today I think he would add government functions as well. To our neoliberal believers, government should be  privatized for profit, no matter the cost to the notion of democracy.

    I didn’t think about Democrat wins in the popular vote in earlier years, so thanks for that reminder. I worry about changing the Constitution because the current arrangements open the door to all kinds of dangerously stupid ideas, like the balanced budget amendment that is gaining ground and might actually lead to something horrible. (edited for bad typing)

  11. joejoejoe says:

    Costa Rica just passed us in average life expectancy. Costa Rica is a capitalist democracy with a growing population with similar percentages of poverty and unemployment. It’s less of a distance from Dallas to Costa Rica than Salt Lake City to New York. Somehow with an average annual income of $6800 in Costa Rica vs. $48000 in the USA, Costa Ricans live longer and score higher on the GINI index and Happiness reports. It’s not that hard not to suck as a country.

    The American system is half Rube Goldberg machine / half grift. It takes massive amounts of disinformation and misunderstanding for any country to function as poorly as our country (mal)functions. Simply sitting on our ass and not going out of the way to be friends with oil despots and having an national ethic beyond heads I win/tails you lose would be a massive improvement.


  12. R says:

    Brooks now supports multi-ranked or multiple-choice voting because he sees the Republicans are split, and he is on the outs, along with George Will and others like them. Brooks figures if he and the other Republicans, who are on the outside of the current Republican party’s openly racist/fascist wave, can get some representation in Congress, the outsiders can be players again. One example to look to is California. When the Democrats should be electing only themselves in California, Schwartzenegger and the Republicans somehow conjured up the jungle primary, where they have definite chances to get elected, when, based on the overwhelming Democratic majority of the electorate, they shouldn’t.

    I am against multiranked or multichoice voting. Right when the Democratic Party has a good chance to run the table into at least the moderate future, all of a sudden some Republicans support multirank/multichoice. It’s the same with the Supreme Court. When it looks like a Democrat is may be appointing some judges to the Supreme Court, that’s when Republicans want term limits for Supreme Court justices. Hear that lately from Republicans?

    The country is not stable enough, nor is it sophisticated enough, to conduct multirank or multichoice voting. Right now, we need more centralized power embodied by the winning Democratic Party, not less power spread among factionalists. Does anyone doubt that at least one or two or more Nazis would be elected to Congress, as formal representatives of the Nazi or New Nazi Party, or some equivalent, with multirank voting? Of course this will happen. Don’t give me nazified individuals currently slipping through as current members of the Republican Party, as if to say, in answer to me, “So what.” Formal recognition of such odiousness generates a whole new situation.




  13. GKJames says:

    Maybe there’s a natural shelf-life to liberal democracy. Maybe it’s inevitable that the illiberal half of humanity will use the benefits and flexibility of liberalism for illiberal ends. (It doesn’t help, of course, when the liberal half doesn’t show up enough on voting day.) All to say that, maybe the forty post-WWII years were the highlight, the exception that arose out of the pre-1945 insanity. Now we’re just returning to a state of normal, where authoritarians, religious zealots, and plutocrats run the show, with liberals not insignificant but also perpetually outnumbered. We just happen to be compulsory witnesses to liberalism’s decline. The disappointment comes from having seen what liberalism can — and did — accomplish and the expectation (now crushed) that things could be even better.

    • Ed Walker says:

      I’m trying to make myself continue reading Wolfgang Streeck’s book, How Will Capitalism End, which makes some similar points. It’s a depressing idea, maybe too depressing for me.

      • GKJames says:

        Interesting question. It could be that things simply aren’t bad enough. Only the Depression and WWII gave rise to the necessary consensus for enough people to pull in the same direction.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          We’re using the wrong metaphors, which come primarily out of steam engines and early machines in the early 1800s, with all it’s talk of ‘fuel’, and ‘performance’.  Then, we add idiotic metrics like GDP (which, if we have 1o hurricanes this year, will ‘grow’ but not because society would actually be more prosperous.)

          A great book that gets at whacked metaphors driving horrendous economics is Hanauer and Liu’s “The Gardens of Democracy”.

          Also, check out Tim O’Reilly’s “WTF: What’s the Future, and Why it’s Up to Us”, which I can’t recommend highly enough.  (O’Reilly has acute perspective on the difference between a unicorn and a company that is more than a venture capitalists fantasy.  Well worth the time, especially in an era of bizarro valuations and concentrated wealth.)

  14. Charles says:

    Ed, I think the answer is very clear: our democracy ceased to function about 20 years ago, first with the attempt to seize power through a judicial coup against Clinton, and then by the outright judicial coup of Bush v. Gore. Obama could have renewed the system, but did not. So, for roughly 2 decades, we have existed in a kind of interregnum, waiting for a new system to be born. The authoritarian model represented by Trump is failing, awash in corruption and dysfunction. But a democratic system cannot be reborn as long as so many people do not understand or are unable to perform (e.g., because they work 80 hours a week, e.g., because the news media do not properly report the news) the duties of a citizen.

    That means that it can only be renewed through collapse and renovation as citizens create an independent media, assert the right to work reasonable hours for reasonable pay and, most important, get engaged.

    • Ed Walker says:

      As I noted above, I started a book by Wolfgang Streeck, How Will Capitalism End, but had to put it down because it’s so depressing. I’d rather give up on neoliberal capitalism than democracy. At least that gives us a target for resistance.

  15. Sabrina says:

    Fantastic article, Ed. Your views on society in general are always well-reasoned and ring true to me. A couple thoughts, though apologies if they’re muddled as it’s pretty late at night right now.

    1- I think that the very beginning of the post describing the sense of waiting only has to do with politics in a narrow sense, though politics can help remedy the situation. I believe that feeling stems from ennui in many people’s lives; that feeling that one’s life is incomplete. Many developed societies report these feelings intensifying; the data bears this out, as mental illnesses continue to rise (bear with me here, I do have a point that isn’t totally OT). Looking at the social components of poorer mental health, it paints a picture of a person with few social connections, financial hardship, and an inability to change ones socioeconomic standing through education. One has to wonder if the prospect of looking at one’s own existence and seeing nothing but a lack of opportunity and the sense of swimming against the current (and how exhausting it seems) isn’t at least part of the unrest.
    2- Re government resolution to this; I do believe that policy has the ability to at least ameliorate these issues- job growth and a higher minimum wage would help with both a sense of purpose as well as relieving financial pressure. Wealth redistribution would allow lower income families the ability to purchase items, money which actually goes back into the economy (compared to tax cuts for the richest, which always seem to be taken out of the economy altogether and are rarely even given back to their workers). Unfortunately for job creation, automation has taken enough low-skilled jobs that will never come back, and a drastic policy measure would be to start examining a universal basic income. I know the idea is pretty out there, but small pilots where it has been implemented (Manitoba, Canada; Brazil; even Alaska- Clinton called it “Alaska for America”, which she ultimately decided against on her 2016 platform but says in hindsight she just should have put that idea out there) have shown that feelings of freedom as well as personal and emotional fulfillment tend to increase.

    How do 1 and 2 fit together? In short, people are feeling like they’re constantly waiting for something, and this is likely in large part to sense that their lives are purposeless. This feeling, then, would engender dissatisfaction with political parties. Political progress is slow and is burdened with worrying about helping some while not hurting others. Reform is also slow, and most people who are living that disconnect between the top 20% or so and the hardships of their own existences see either absolutely terrible policy makers- in the worst case- or ineffectual parties, at best. And when the problems are insidious and systemic, like the handful I mentioned above, it will need the push of policy to get the needle to budge even slightly. I think that what the US (and for that matter, Canada and the UN) do in the short and medium-term future will have a large impact on daily life. We are quickly approaching a tipping point where job markets will have to change drastically. Hopefully, governments will be prepared for easing into a time when there are just not enough jobs for everyone (instead of the half measures that has given us the gig economy- the worst of both worlds), and put in place sensible fiscal planning to ensure a smooth transition to whatever model of “employment” (or a purpose-led society) that comes next- because things can’t continue on this course forever.

    • Ed Walker says:

      Everyone is struggling with capitalism now, and the consequences are must more miserable the poorer you are and the less stable your job is. The explanation “their lives are pointless” strikes at a deeper malaise than I desscribe.You are talking about the feeling that there isn’t any way out of a life that offers no obvious improvement, no social mobility and no real participation in society.

      At a more abstract level, it’s common to say that human life has no purpose other than that we create for ourselves. For many people that means having a good life, decent work, family, and a hope that the children will do the same or better. Without that hope, they have no purpose. What will fill that gap? Depression, anger, hostility to others, and worse.

      For wealthier people, those who won the Lucky Sperm lottery or some other game of life chances, there is a nagging feeling of whether they deserve their good fortune. That feeling is covered up with braying about meritocracy, and scorning the losers and even cruelty towards them, as if the lash of hunger could cure cancer or poverty. It’s hard to be clear-headed about this when it comes to, say, me.

      I think a Job Guarantee is a good solution for lots of reasons. One important reason is that the work done by a huge number of people is wildly undervalued. I’d a lot rather pay garbage men and sewer workers and practical nurses more money and pay executives a whole lot less, which would happen if the government offered good pay and benefits as in Bernie’s plan, because private business would haave to compete with that pay to get the workers it currently exploits.

      But I’m pretty sure that isn’t going to happen without a vicious struggle betwee labor and capital.

      • Sabrina says:

        I couldn’t agree more. Very well said. I tend to look at things a bit more in the abstract generally, and your description is exactly what I tried to explain. I wish we were closer to seriously considering a UBI, or job guarantee, but you’re right in that it would require an overhaul of the capitalistic society as it currently exists.

  16. sneft says:

    Life in an extractive economy is stressful. Subliminally, people know something’s wrong. One could say there’s a mass suffering of malaise. But this sense of, I dunno, let’s call it despair is why I personally refer to the post-2008 financial collapse as the Greater Depression. And the powers that be learned from the New Deal: Nothing’s going to done about it because their personal wealth is the most important thing. And we’re certainly compliant enough.

    • Ed Walker says:

      I like your Greater Depression line. I may have to steal that. Sometimes I even remember to credit people.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Oh, they know something is wrong. The problem is that too many watch Fox, and are brainwashed into thinking that they are not the problem. It’s always someone else.

      People that watch Fox are too fucking stupid to actually think for themselves. But they worship the church of propaganda.

  17. lefty665 says:

    Waiting for…. Godot. We have wandered in the existentialist future predicted by the writers of my youth, and it is not pretty.

    Your description of Trump is mercifully brief, but thus incomplete. He has many more ugly characteristics. OTOH, characterizing Hillary as simply competent when your Trumpian description as corrupt liar fits her every bit as well begs the question. As we all know, Mussolini made the railroads run on time. Fascist competence was a bug not a feature. It is to a large extent bipartisan neoliberal competence that has brought us to our dystopian future.

    The 3/5s issue in the Constitution was settled, thrown into the dustbin of history around 150 years ago. It is not relevant to discussions today. Apportionment of the legislature and electoral college to moderate dictatorship of the majority is one of the features of our form of government. We would have no sea to shining sea nation without it.  We would look like Europe, a plethora of  mini nations. The smaller states would never have ratified the Constitution without protection from the depredations of majority mob rule.  Hillary won the popular vote by around 3m, and California by roughly 4 million. The rest of the country narrowly voted for Trump by around 1m votes.  Our system muddled through as designed.

    Legislative practices, like the filibuster, are legacies of a bygone legislative era of greater political comity, if not function.  They are not enshrined in the Constitution.

    Both parties changed massively just as us boomers were coming of age. The Repubs with the Goldwater Revolution that purged the moderate Rockefeller Repubs, and the Dems with the McGovern Commission reforms that kicked working class America to the curb in favor of neoliberals and the upper classes, but I repeat myself. That paved the way for the neoliberal morphing of parties into a single bipartisan ruling class and the odd polarization of political parties into a dysfunctional marriage focused on social issues that seems only able to indulge the worst of their excesses. The recent Repub tax cuts followed quickly by the Dems unmoderated spending legislation are an example.

    I share your distaste for Brooks and his ilk. They also qualify as corrupt liars and may be worse than Clinton and Trump in that they attempt to hide their corruption under an intellectual veneer.

    What are we waiting for?  I dunno, Godot?  If I knew I would not be nattering here. What I am pretty sure of is that there is not a monolithic Dem majority. The dissatisfaction and rage in ’16 was profound and transcended party. That is how we got Clinton and Trump as candidates. On the Repub side people revolted, threw out the establishment candidates in favor of the pie in the sky promises of a con man. On the Dem side a geriatric gadfly gathered around 46% of the primary votes in a rigged primary season.  The majority opinion appears to be “Everything sucks. I’m mad as Hell and I won’t take it anymore”. On the Dem side the corrupt lying neoliberals are still running the party, and on the Repub side they are struggling to figure out how to deal with Trump.

    Together our political leaders have f*cked the country for the last 50 years. Those chickens are coming home to roost. There is no majority that fails to address the long abused needs of working/middle class Americans of all races, creeds, colors.  Blaming it on the Constitution is a mugs game. The problem dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves. The decay of empires was ever thus.

    • bmaz says:

      What a load of worthless crap.

      I guess we should all be thankful you didn’t wax on with assholery about the evil “Red Queen”.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Godot will be sighted next year.

      You just have to wait.

      Make sure everyone you know actually votes.

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