by Frank Schnittger
Wed Aug 9th, 2017 at 12:54:10 PM EST
[Cross-posted from the Booman Tribune]
With Booman off on his holidays to consider his future, I thought I might contribute an outside perspective which he may, or may not, find of interest. All of us have benefited greatly from his analyses here, and the platform he provides for further discussion and debate. For me his is the go to site for insights on US political developments. But maybe the time has come for Booman to consider entering the fray directly, rather than just being an informed commentator and bystander.
By chance I recently found myself waiting in a surgery idly looking through the first few pages of Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope". In it he describes his somewhat crazy decision to run for the Senate as a more or less no hope outsider. He justified it to his long suffering wife as a one last shot at making a difference in politics. She reluctantly agreed but didn't promise him her vote. She wanted a greater contribution from him towards family life and raising their kids.
However the dysfunctionality he describes in US public life has been amplified many times since the election of Donald Trump. If ever there was a time to take responsibility and attempt to lead the US out of the swamp it has entered, it is now. The long odds really aren't the issue. It is the principle that matters. So why should Booman run for office?
Looked at from afar, the political crisis in the US has manifold causes, but a few stand out. First of all, globalisation has been good for many in the US economy, but many have also lost out and have little hope of redemption.
Secondly, the rising tide of minority population growth and immigration has led to the traditionally relatively secure white working class voters feeling beleaguered and unrepresented by the two main parties.
Thirdly the dominance of big money, big corporations and media organisations has resulted in the political system basically being hijacked by the ruling class.
Fourthly, the neo-liberal dream of making the world safe for American "democratic" rule has gone badly off the rails. Many people feel that the system no longer works for them and that the USA has lost at least some of its leadership in the world.
Hillary didn't seem like a solution to any of these problems, and so in desperation, many voters turned to Trump, a political outsider, in the hope he might be able to replicate his apparent business success in politics. Many are not even yet prepared to admit they got it wrong. Generally, telling voters they got it wrong last time out is not a good political strategy. You have to offer them something new.
At the moment the Democratic party is still riven by "we told you so" blame games between the Hillary and Sanders camps with the establishment focusing on the Russian collusion story almost to the exclusion of all else. This strategy is useful insofar as it divides and weakens the Trump/Republican administration and prevents them implementing much of their agenda. But it can also get in the way of a deeper analysis of what Hillary got wrong and what needs to be addressed if Democrats are to start winning elections again.
It must also not be forgotten that Republicans won both Houses of Congress, often taking seats in areas not won by Trump. Democrats therefore have much deeper structural issues to address.
In fairness to Booman he has been at the forefront of attempts to craft a political strategy which can attract parts of the disaffected Trump/Republican base without compromising core Democratic values: Chiefly an emphasis on the importance of re-enacting anti-trust laws to prevent global commercial monopolies crushing all local enterprise. I don't think that that strategy, on it's own, will be sufficient to swing political momentum back to Democrats, but perhaps it can in combination with the sheer incompetence of the Trump/Republican regime and the disasters it has not yet visited on the American people.
Chief among these are the impending debt crises where a failure to raise the debt ceiling, leading to a default, could crash to US economy to the point where most Republicans, of all stripes, become unelectable. A miss-calculation leading to a serious war in Korea would be another possibility. Attempting to impose sanctions on European firms trading with Russia could also set up a very damaging US/EU confrontation.
But that would be to rely on Republicans losing the election for you. First the Democrats need to address their own divisions between the Clinton and Sanders wings of the party. As both Principals are unlikely to run again due to advancing years, that task may fall to a new generation of leaders. In the meantime, Booman is trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. I think he should run for Office. He supported Hillary as the more likely to win the general election, but wasn't overly invested in her. His time may now come.