Donald Trump's skills at persuasion and attention-getting have shifted America's political debate outside the confines of where they'd prefer to keep the Overton Window. It has also highlighted the extent to which a very large part of the Republican Party's base feels abandoned and betrayed by its leaders and funders.
Trump's chances of getting enough votes to win the Republican nomination have risen so high that our elites are in a panic. We are being treated to a great deal of commentary from the mainstream media and Republican leaders and pundits on how a Trump presidency would be a disaster. Lets think about that.
What strikes me most: there are types of potential or actual policy disasters that will not get the media elite and donors worked up. For example, the long US military presence in Iraq was very expensive in money (trillions of dollars) and harm to US troops. It did not make the United States more secure. It could be argued the opposite happened since it made possible the rise of ISIS. This did not lead to Republicans saying we have to purge the party of neoconservatives or George W. Bush. Aside from the supposedly reckless Trump the rest of the field defended the war (except Rand Paul who faded very early).
Similarly, Hillary Clinton was for overthrowing Qaddafi in Libya. Obama was more reluctant than her but lacked the will to stop her. How'd that work out? ISIS controls about 150 miles of Libyan coastline around Sirte and the country has been in civil war for about 5 years. Its a disaster. Note what Philip H. Gordon says at that page. Probably no way we could have done Libya right. Yet Hillary's supporters point to her foreign policy experience as weighing in her favor. Look, we had the Afghanistan and Iraq nation building debacles already (and quite a few others in US foreign policy history). Anyone actually willing to learn did not need to learn the lesson again in Libya.
As I see it the Democratic and Republican Party foreign policy circles are dominated by irresponsible lunatics. How is Trump worse than them? Not seeing it. He seems way better on the Middle East.
Then there is Russia. Should we take a hard line against Russia? To hear some Republican Party Presidential candidates talk you'd think so. But how does this help our national security? Under Putin Russia is acting very Russian by taking back Crimea and a very Russian slice of Ukraine. Why should we get worked up about this? Neocons and neoliberals think its terrible. But the borders were an accident of Nikita Krushchev's Premiership and how the USSR broke up. Crimea really is Russian. The Obama State Department overplayed its hand in Ukraine and Russia responded. I can't see how Trump's friendlier attitude toward Putin is going to be bad. Anyone care to explain it? I think the stakes are low for US interests.
Or how about Syria? International pariah ISIS has a large chunk of the country. If Assad's government fell ISIS might expand its territory. The moderate opposition is a badly beaten minority. But there are neocon and neoliberal factions inside and outside the government who would have loved to see the US take out Assad a few years ago. Crazy.
Trump as the disaster on foreign policy? No, we already have bipartisan foreign policy disasters in place. Trump is sane compared to what passes for conventional wisdom on the use of US power abroad.
Next is immigration. That's a bipartisan disaster too. Importing tens of millions of poorly skilled people to drive down the wages of our existing lower classes is just a damaging thing to do to the commonwealth. Reduces incentives to make labor more productive. Increases the number of people who get more in government benefits than they pay in taxes. Creates new divisions by race. Actually led to the very rise of Trump that the elites detest.
Here's what I see about the elites: They know what they want and will keep trying to get it. If Trump loses the elites aren't going to say they ought to address the legitimate concerns of his supporters. They'll say those concerns aren't legitimate. They'll revert to norm. They'll ramp up their propaganda and try harder. They'll also continue to use US power abroad in foolish and damaging ways.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2016 March 19 09:34 PM|