The most controversial of the many executive orders issued by President Trump (so far) has been to institute a 90 day entry ban on people from seven countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen), an indefinite entry ban on refugees from Syria, and a four month ban on all refugees. Full text at CNN.
In response, protesters demonstrated at international airports around the US, Pope Francis and many politicians from both aisles condemned the order, opposition cases were filed in several states, and the acting Attorney General Sally Yates refused to defend it in court.
Yates was quickly replaced, as was the acting Director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Some pundits are calling this the Monday Night Massacre, invoking Nixon, but it seems to me that this and other provocative executive orders and memorandums are effectively a loyalty test by the incoming administration. And they won’t be the last.
During the election, we saw a nearly-public test of strength between the FBI, which seemed to support Trump, and the CIA, which seemed to lean towards Clinton. As described in The Intercept:
Trump values loyalty to himself above all other traits, so it is surely not lost on him that few entities were as devoted to his victory, or played as critical a role in helping to achieve it, as the FBI. One of the more unusual aspects of the 2016 election, perhaps the one that will prove to be most consequential, was the covert political war waged between the CIA and FBI. While the top echelon of the CIA community was vehemently pro-Clinton, certain factions within the FBI were aggressively supportive of Trump. Hillary Clinton herself blames James Comey and his election-week letter for her defeat. Elements within the powerful New York field office were furious that Comey refused to indict Clinton, and embittered agents reportedly shoveled anti-Clinton leaks to Rudy Giuliani. The FBI’s 35,000 employees across the country are therefore likely to be protected and empowered. Trump’s decision to retain Comey — while jettisoning all other top government officials — suggests that this has already begun to happen.
Trump and his advisers are well aware that they are taking over a bureaucracy that is still riddled with supporters of the neoliberal globalist regime. That’s why Trump brought in his own security detail.
Thus commences a long purge, and the first task is to discover who is loyal to the executive, and who is not. The old guard has a lot of power and includes much of the mainstream media, but Trump has the power to replace senior officials, who will presumably work their way down through the ranks.
Every now and then I look for Daniel Larison at the American Conservative, and sometimes I get sidetracked to Rod Dreher, who had a piece called, Trump Disrupter-in-Chief, with the tagline, “How he’s realigning both parties, and no elites can do a damn thing about it.” Dreher was actually going paintballing, though, and just cited two other pieces.
The first, This Is What the Future of American Politics Looks Like, was posted on Politico way back in May 2016, by Michael Lind. Lind summed up what he saw then as the realignment of the two leading parties:
Today’s Republican Party is predominantly a Midwestern, white, working-class party with its geographic epicenter in the South and interior West. Today’s Democratic Party is a coalition of relatively upscale whites with racial and ethnic minorities, concentrated in an archipelago of densely populated blue cities.
In both parties, there’s a gap between the inherited orthodoxy of a decade or two ago and the real interests of today’s electoral coalition. And in both parties, that gap between voters and policies is being closed in favor of the voters — a slight transition in the case of Hillary Clinton, but a dramatic one in the case of Donald Trump.
With regard to the Republicans, Lind either leaves out all the well-to-do white folk that went for Trump, too, or is using a very broad definition of working-class. Also, he scarcely mentioned young Democrats flocking to Bernie Sanders, and ignores that many, many young independents didn’t want any part of Clinton or Trump. So I would say that the Democratic realignment is still being played out, and may end up more populist than he expects.
What is more interesting is that Lind sees a larger struggle between populist nationalists and multicultural globalists – though he very much wants to divide them along party lines. He clearly favors the nationalists, and takes pains to distinguish them from white nationalists, hoping that, “a populist American nationalism untainted by vestiges of racial bigotry might have transracial appeal, like versions of national populism in Latin America.” Elsewhere, he notes hopefully that many American Latinos and Latinas see themselves as white (and Republican):
The outlines of the two-party system of the 2020s and 2030s are dimly visible. The Republicans will be a party of mostly working-class whites, based in the South and West and suburbs and exurbs everywhere. They will favor universal, contributory social insurance systems that benefit them and their families and reward work effort—programs like Social Security and Medicare. But they will tend to oppose means-tested programs for the poor whose benefits they and their families cannot enjoy.
They will oppose increases in both legal and illegal immigration, in some cases because of ethnic prejudice; in other cases, for fear of economic competition. The instinctive economic nationalism of tomorrow’s Republicans could be invoked to justify strategic trade as well as crude protectionism. They are likely to share Trump’s view of unproductive finance: “The hedge-fund guys didn’t build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky.”
Of course this was written before Trump stocked his cabinet with Goldman Sachs alums, and before his team started hinting that Medicare and Social Security were back on the chopping block. Who knows where an again-betrayed working class may go in 2020?
The Democrats of the next generation will be even more of an alliance of upscale, progressive whites with blacks and Latinos, based in large and diverse cities. They will think of the U.S. as a version of their multicultural coalition of distinct racial and ethnic identity groups writ large. Many younger progressives will take it for granted that moral people are citizens of the world, equating nationalism and patriotism with racism and fascism.
The withering-away of industrial unions, thanks to automation as well as offshoring, will liberate the Democrats to embrace free trade along with mass immigration wholeheartedly. The emerging progressive ideology of post-national cosmopolitanism will fit nicely with urban economies which depend on finance, tech and other industries of global scope, and which benefit from a constant stream of immigrants, both skilled and unskilled.
Although the Women’s March and last weekend’s airport rallies might support a view of Democrats obsessed with multiculturalism, there is, as I wrote in my last piece, no clear picture of where the Democrats are going. Many will continue to serve their liberal elite donors’ others may follow the Sanders path. If the gang at dagblog is any indication, older liberals don’t seem inclined to build any sort of coalition with the white working class, but younger folk may feel differently.
As of a few days ago, Lind and Glen Bottoms in, An Infrastructure Fix, were urging Trump to think about trains and bicycles, instead of highways, and even a gasoline tax. Those are great ideas, but the Heritage wish list of defunded government agencies and programs – which many think Trump is following – include both Amtrak and Washington DC Metrorail.
Dreher also cited Peggy Noonan’s, Trump Tries to Build a ‘Different Party’. Noonan thinks Trump’s barrage of executive orders and memoranda will look like progress and promise-keeping to his base.
The significance and velocity of the orders unnerved and upset Mr. Trump’s critics and took aback some of his friends. But those orders — even though their use makes the presidency more imperial, even though it’s no way to govern, even though Mr. Obama did it, too — will likely not be unpopular in the country. It actually looked as if someone was doing something.
More important than the orders were the White House meetings. One was a breakfast with a dozen major CEOs. They looked happy as frolicking puppies in the photo-op, and afterward talked about jobs. Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin said she was “encouraged by the president’s commitment to reduce barriers to job creation.” In a statement after the meeting, the glassmaker Corning, whose CEO attended, announced plans to expand its U.S. manufacturing base significantly over the next few years. Because I live in New York and work at the Journal, I see and talk to American CEOs. I’ve never heard them bang on about a need to boost American jobs and manufacturing, ever. They usually talk about targeted microloans in India, and robots.
More important still — the most important moment of the first week — was the meeting with union leaders. Mr. Trump gave them almost an hour and a half. “The president treated us with respect, not only our organization but our members,” said Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, by telephone. Liuna had not endorsed Trump in the campaign, but Mr. O’Sullivan saw the meeting’s timing as an expression of respect: “He’s inaugurated on Friday and we’re invited in Monday to have a substantial conversation.” The entire Trump top staff was there, including the vice president: “His whole team — we were very impressed.” They talked infrastructure, trade and energy. “The whole meeting was about middle class jobs, how do we create more?” Mr. O’Sullivan believes the Keystone pipeline will eventually generate more than 40,000 jobs. Mr. O’Sullivan said he hopes fixing “our crumbling transportation infrastructure” will be “the largest jobs program in the country.”
Noonan believes that Trump will prevail because Democrats, “don’t have a playbook,” to use against a populist. That’s true, but Trump’s main opposition isn’t coming from Democratic weebles; it is coming from neoliberal globalists in the Deep State.
Comet TV has been showing Futureworld – the poorly-received 1976 sequel to the 1973 hit film Westworld – over and over. So I watched it today. Peter Fonda, Blythe Danner and Arthur Hill are capable-enough actors, but the original had Michael Crichton on board, and the sequel didn’t. The sequel shares a major plot hole with some Jurassic Park sequels in that even though customers and staff were slaughtered in a theme park, both operations were again open for business in just a few years … and customers came flocking back.
Do customers do that in real life? Well, right now, the Democratic Party expects us all to flock back after snatching defeat from the least popular candidate in history. (Trump Rex?)
I needed more stim than just a bad movie, so I also looked at my blog stats and found that ArtAppraiser had included a link to A what struggle, my previous post, in a comment on a Danny Cardwell article on dagblog, so I read that article and the Hal Ginsberg article to which he was responding. They were hashing out arguments for and against finding common cause with the white working class, and as I expected several commenters had indeed found the idea unpalatable.
I left dag before either Cardwell or Ginsburg started posting, so I don’t know much about either of them, but many of the old characters are still there. Though dag founder Michael Wolraich has raised the alarum that the Democratic Party is almost irrelevant politically, most dagsters are stuck rehashing the primary between Sanders and Clinton.
Common cause between Democrats themselves has been difficult to find. Current officeholders are doing everything to hang on to relevance except changing their neoliberal strategy.
Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks is spearheading an anti-corporatist group, including former leaders of the Sanders campaign team, called Justice Democrats. JD is dedicated to finding candidates to primary and replace the current crop of Democrats (Schumer, Booker, etc.), who speak bravely but vote pragmatically. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is enjoying a moment of fame for actually voting against every Trump cabinet appointee.
In a short Sane Progressive Facebook video, Debbie Lusignan has criticized the Justice Democrats because she feels that neither Sanders nor The Young Turks have been sufficiently concerned about the sort of voter suppression reported by Greg Palast. If Trump is able to reinstate voter ID laws, Democrats may have no chance to win an important election.
And as I’ve mentioned before, many pundits believe the real struggle is not between parties but between factions within the Deep State or Shadow Government. In that case, both parties truly are irrelevant.
(Eric Idle): … Well now we come on to our special gift section. The contestant is Karl Marx and the prize this week is a beautiful lounge suite. Now Karl has elected to answer questions on the workers control of factories so here we go with question number one. Are you nervous? (Karl nods his head; the presenter reads from a card) The development of the industrial proletariat is conditioned by what other development?
Karl: The development of the industrial bourgeoisie.
(Eric Idle): Yes, yes, it is indeed. You’re on your way to the lounge suite, Karl. Question number two. The struggle of class against class is a what struggle? A what struggle?
Karl: A political struggle.
(Eric Idle): Yes, yes! One final question Karl and the beautiful lounge suite will be yours… Are you going to have a go? (Karl nods) You’re a brave man. Karl Marx, your final question, who won the Cup Final in 1949?
Karl: The workers’ control of the means of production? The struggle of the urban proletariat?
(Eric Idle): No. It was in fact, Wolverhampton Wanderers who beat Leicester 3-1.
I’m probably doomed. While protest groups like Occupy targeted the 1% (probably meaning 0.1%) wealthiest Americans – thus envisioning unity of spirit among all the rest of us in the 99%, the Marxist strategy was for one large class to oppose another large class. Though my parents were born working class, my father earned enough that I was raised to expect all the perks of the upper middle class. Occupy fizzled, and I’m reading more and more Marxist rhetoric.
Acknowledging the class system in America used to be rare in the mainstream media, but since Trump won, there have been any number of mainstream articles about the disaffected working class. As early as February 2016, we saw Peggy Noonan writing about the protected and unprotected classes, and John Michael Greer dividing us into the wage class and the salary class.
A few days ago, Greer claimed that bigotry against the working class plays a massive role in the current vitriol towards Trump. Yesterday, Charles Hugh Smith posted, The Protected, Privileged Establishment vs. The Working Class, stoking anger at the class of all people who have prospered as the working class has foundered:
Any Working Class individual who recognized that globalization, open immigration and neoliberal financial policies were the propellers dismembering the Working Class economically and disenfranchising the Working Class politically was immediately labeled with the worst that “liberal” privileged, protected elites could spew: you’re racist, Luddite, backward, etc. — in other words, you’re not a rootless Cosmopolitan who loves your servitude to capital and the state like us.
Since the Left has masked its abandonment and betrayal of the Working Class with “social justice” speech acts, the worst insults the Left can dish out are those that suggest opposition to the Left’s social justice campaigns.
If these sorts of revolutionaries get their way, at least half of the people I know and care about could be going the way of Sydney Carton. Of course, so did Robespierre.
In contrast, Benjamin Studebaker posted How to Fight Fascism Intelligently, urging the Left to adopt three strategies designed to find common ground with the working class:
1 – Conspicuous Respect: Always treat white people, especially poor and working class white men, with respect. Show concern for their interests, and never verbally bully them or employ physical violence against them. It’s important not only that we treat white people with respect, but that white people recognize us to be treating them with respect. This means that slogans like “Black Lives Matter”, which are not intended as disrespectful to whites but which are nonetheless often interpreted that way, have to go. The same goes for “The Future is Female”.
2 – Parties For Poor and Working People: Never support political parties, movements, and politicians which allow themselves to be seen to ignore the interests of white people, especially poor and working class white men. Even if it’s not true that these parties and movements ignore white people, if they are seen to ignore white people they will inevitably aid and abet right nationalism. It is ultimately the Democratic Party’s perceived indifference to these folks which brought us to this pass – it made them feel “forgotten”.
3 – Policies That Benefit Everyone: When we talk policy, we should always emphasize policies that help all of our poor and working people. If a white working class guy argues that the policies we’re recommending don’t benefit him, we must not tell him to check his privilege – we need to show him how he will personally benefit, and if we get a chance to implement the policy we must deliver on that benefit and be seen to do so. And if we can’t think of a way that he’ll benefit? Maybe we need to change the policy so he does feel included.
Today, Studebaker expands on that in, How to Reframe Anti-Discrimination Politics to Overcome Division. I think Sanders resonated with the working class, but new progressive movements, like Cenk Uygur’s Justice Democrats, should make sure to be responsive to working class concerns.
I anticipate that many liberals and progressives will find it offensive to be asked to respect people that assiduously repost the most tasteless slurs about blacks, muslims and women. For example, my brother just reposted a joke that Trump was able to get more fat women out walking than Michelle Obama ever did. It’s going to take a lot of patience, but it is better than class war.
This ain’t no fooling around.
It seems so long ago I dismissed Trump as a would-be strongman, but now he has been sworn into office. Explanations for his surprise election have ranged from white supremacy and misogny to economic anxiety of the formerly privileged to failure of the party in power to respect or serve their working class base. All of these are true to a point, but I think the latter two made the largest impact.
Many of my friends are concerned for their health, safety or legitimacy under the new administration. Today some of them are out marching against him. In a recent piece, John Michael Greer dismisses them:
I don’t think reasonable differences of opinion on the one hand, and the ordinary hypocrisy of partisan politics on the other, explain the extraordinarily stridency, the venom, and the hatred being flung at the incoming administration by its enemies. There may be many factors involved, to be sure, but I’d like to suggest that one factor in particular plays a massive role here.
To be precise, I think a lot of what we’re seeing is the product of class bigotry.
I part company with JMG here. I think there is real anxiety on the part of the class under attack. And they should be anxious, even for their livelihoods, because everything that relies on federal funding or grants could be on the block.
Charles Hugh Smith, who I quoted previously on the Deep State, proposes that Trump has the support of a Progressive subset of the Deep State which is in opposition to the Neoliberal Deep State. On his blog, Smith explains away why a populist like Trump has nominated so many establishment insiders:
To get anything done in a culture of entrenched interests, one must either have an overwhelming political mandate to dismantle the entire machine–Trump does not–or you need Insiders who know the pressure points of the system and its key players–in effect, Insiders who know how to slip a political stiletto into the kidneys of key players and twist the blade to get done what would otherwise be impossible.
But what I see is that Trump has appointed both insiders and outsiders. Insiders like banker Wilbur Ross and retired Marine Corps General James Mattis will head the Departments of Commerce and Defense – each of which Trump values. Outsiders like Betsy DeVos, Rick Perry and Ben Carson have been tapped to head the Departments of Education, Energy and Housing and Urban Development – which Trump intends to cripple. Rex Tillerson is an oil insider, which indicates that Trump is more interested in foreign oil than foreign borders.
In, Trump’s Declaration of War, Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan, also sees Trump as a bulwark against neoliberalism:
Trump made it abundantly clear that Americans’ enemies are right here at home: globalists, neoliberal economists, neoconservatives and other unilateralists accustomed to imposing the US on the world and involving us in endless and expensive wars, politicians who serve the Ruling Establishment rather than the American people, indeed, the entire canopy of private interests that have run America into the ground while getting rich in the process.
But other than possibly avoiding another war, I wonder if dismantling the neoliberal regime will be of any particular benefit to the average citizen. In an article on The Intercept, Anything at All Can Happen in the Age of Trump, Jon Schwarz writes:
… while nothing is certain, some alarming things are more likely than others. The path the new administration hopes to take may be discernible in a 2016 report (PDF) by the conservative Heritage Foundation. According to The Hill on Thursday, Trump transition staffers – including a vice president at Heritage’s grassroots arm Action for America – are using the Heritage document as the basis for Trump’s first proposed budget.
The Heritage Foundation’s plan for balancing the budget savages Medicaid, Non-Defense Discretionary spending, Medicare and Social Security, in that order, to the tune of some 10.4 trillion dollars.
Just a small sample of what is on the Heritage chopping block includes the National School Lunch Program, Violence Against Women Act grants, all Non-Combat Defense Research, about a dozen DOE programs, about a dozen EPA programs, Public Broadcasting (to be privatized), Job Corps, Planned Parenthood, subsidies for Amtrak and DC Metro, and all Greenhouse Gas regulations.
Trump may posture as a populist, but this is not a populist list of cuts.
I’m a privileged Baltimore bicycle commuter.
I usually board the MTA light rail with my bike at Mt Washington station and get off at Convention Center station, then ride about a mile to Federal Hill. I can easily bike the entire ten miles into work – mostly downhill – but a few years ago a coworker left a note on my desk complaining that I was too sweaty. And in the winter it is awfully dark before 7 AM. So I ride in and bike home.
About two months ago, the train limped into North Avenue station, and they announced a delay. Sometimes delays are brief, but other times everyone has to get off and wait for another train. So I stepped off and biked a few blocks over to Maryland Avenue, which has always been a good route into the city. I was surprised to find a dedicated 2.6 mile bike lane, what Bikemore is calling the Maryland Avenue Cycle Track. The reported costs were about $700,000.
Cyclists now have two lanes divided by a parking lane from automotive traffic. Flexible polypropylene posts reinforce the painted lane markings. At that time there were a lot of gaps, and some dangerous gratings, but as of 2017, except for sewer construction blocking everything but the sidewalks at Mt Vernon Place, the track is largely complete. There are also several of the twenty Bikeshare stations along the route. In the mornings, I regularly see one guy get off with me at Convention Center station and pick up a bike for the remainder of his commute.
Over the last seven years I have tried a variety of routes to bike home. I’ve ridden up both Park Avenue and Charles Street to Falls Road, Clipper Mill Road and some actual bike trails, but the traffic was daunting in some places. For a long time I rode Martin Luther King Boulevard, Paca Street or Howard Avenue to Eutaw Street to Druid Hill Park to Greenspring Avenue or Reisterstown Road. Some of my coworkers thought that route would bring me through dangerous black neighborhoods, but I surprised more than a few people by saying I felt more threatened by the territorial SUV drivers on Roland Avenue than the more laid back folk on Eutaw Street, who roll with jaywalking en masse and on Reisterstown Road, who deal with unlicensed motorbiking every summer.
So for the last few months I’ve been taking the cycle track through the busiest part of my commute. It isn’t perfect. Most pedestrians are careful, but some saunter up and down like they’ve got a new sidewalk, and others cross without looking. And some auto and delivery truck drivers use the track for short term parking. But in general, if I am careful at intersections, I don’t have to worry about being sideswiped by a car until I get onto Falls Road. So that’s great.
As reported in Racial Bias Shadows Bike Share Program, projects like this cycle track tend to cluster in the more privileged parts of the city:
A series of maps composed by blogger Ellen Worthing show bike rack locations, bike lanes and bike share stations concentrated in the city’s “White L,” the L-shaped area of Baltimore of primarily White neighborhoods such as Hampden, Federal Hill and Locust Point. Melody Hoffman, author of the book “Bike Lanes are White Lanes,” said that this has been the case in major cities all over the country.
“Baltimore just made a nonverbal statement that Bike Share is for tourists and downtown business people,” Hoffman said. “When they try to expand it, they’re going to have a really hard time getting other people on those bikes because it’s going to seem like it’s not for them because it wasn’t for them in the first place.”
In that same article it falls to Liz Cornish, executive director of Bikemore, to respond. She hints that state funding would not have been available for a cycle track outside the White L, but also brings up safety :
“Because biking and walking does make you more vulnerable to the environment where you are, that’s not a choice or a luxury that all of our residents of the city currently have,” Cornish said. “We have to be mindful when we’re saying ‘everybody should bike’ or ‘we should be putting this infrastructure to make sure it goes everywhere.”
That sounds like a coded response meaning, ‘It is too dangerous to bike in some areas’, which unfortunately can be true. No one has bothered me so far, but I’m a fairly big man. On some bike paths, there have been a few cases of several black youths knocking white commuters off their bikes, and last year there was one sad case of a white waiter killed in Waverly while biking home from the Harbor East restaurant where he worked.
But it is also part and parcel of the reality that the best stuff goes to the richest areas.
Update 20170119: Liz Cornish speaks in greater detail in a CityLab article. (That’s a Bikemore photo at the top, too.)
Corey Robin is a professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. According to online CVs, he has majored in studying both Conservatism (from Burke to Palin), and Neoconservatism, and has minored in the failures of the New Left (neoliberals I suppose) in running the American Empire.
On his blog he admits to having expected a Clinton victory:
In the last chapter of The Reactionary Mind, I argued that conservatism, at least in its modern, twentieth-century American incarnation, had essentially succeeded in its goals. That is, it had destroyed the New Deal, had effectively stopped the civil rights movement, and had significantly slowed the feminist movement. Its great success was its defeat of the left. And because I understand conservatism as an inherently reactionary movement, as a movement that mobilizes against movements of emancipation on behalf of subordinate classes, I argued that its success would prove, long-term, to be the source of its defeat. We could already see the signs, I argued throughout the book, of this coming conservative crack-up. That was in 2011.
But in writing about the election of 2016, I was also influenced by Stephen Skowronek’s The Politics Presidents Make. In that book, which came out in 1993, Skowronek argues that presidents come into office not as sovereign creators of a new world, but as the beneficiaries or burdens of an established regime. That orientation to the regime—is the president opposed to or aligned with the existing way of doing things—plus the strength or weakness of the regime, gives us a sense of how a president might govern. My sense, based on my reading of conservatism and the George W. Bush presidency, was that the Republican free-market regime of Ronald Reagan was becoming weaker, and that Trump would prove to be the equivalent of the George McGovern of the right: that is, the most outré expression of the regime’s principles, at a moment when the regime has begun to decline in popularity.
So I was obviously wrong about Trump being the McGovern of the right. The question is why?
One possibility is that I was wrong about the weaknesses of the Reagan regime. Rather than being weak, perhaps it was strong, which would make Trump an ideal candidate for election. In support of that possibility, people will point to the widespread control the Republicans have over state legislatures today, though as I said at the time this McGovern issue came up, the Democrats also had widespread control over state legislatures in the 1970s, and their control over Congress, particularly the House, was legendary and long-standing.
Another possibility is that I wasn’t wrong about the weaknesses of the Reagan regime but that I was wrong about Trump. Unlike conservatives or Republicans, he was doing something different: he was populist, he was revanchist, he was racist, he was outrageous, he was a demagogue, he reached out to the white working class. He was, in other words, the expression of an utterly new formation, not captured by the nostrums of conservatism. For a thousand different reasons, most of which I explore in my book, I think that argument couldn’t be more wrong. Virtually all the things that people point to that supposedly make Trump not like your typical Republican or conservative are, from my point of view, the emblematic features of what it means to be a conservative. And nothing anyone has said has convinced me otherwise.
Robin continues these thoughts for N+1 Magazine in, The Politics Trump Makes, comparing Donald J Trump to, of all people, James Earl Carter.
Robin alludes to the theory that breaks up American government into six regimes:
1789 – 1800 Federalist regime: Washington, Adams and Hamilton make America an organized state.
1800 – 1828 Democratic-Republican regime: Jefferson, Madison, Monroe try to decentralize.
1828 – 1860 Democratic regime: Jackson led the populist wing of the D-Rs, the rest became Whigs.
1860 – 1932 Republican regime: Lincoln led a coalition of Whigs and anti-slavery Democrats
(Some insert a Progressive regime, starting with McKinley or Teddy Roosevelt)
1932 – 1980 Democratic New Deal regime: FDR promised two chickens in every pot.
1980 – 2016 Republican Free-Market regime: Reagan promised wealth would trickle into the pot.
Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, FDR and Reagan were “reconstructive” leaders, “creating the terms and conditions of politics for decades to come.”
Later in a regime were either potent, “articulating” leaders, building on a still vital regime, or weaker, “preemptive” leaders, trying to overthrow a still strong regime. LBJ was the former; RMN was the latter.
As a regime fails, there may be a, “disjunctive” leader that attempts to keep the regime going. Like Carter, these are usually the most hated Presidents. Or, there will be a, “reconstructive” leader that begins a new regime. It might be that Obama was the final, “disjunctive” leader of the free market regime, which would explain why such an outwardly affable, reasonable man was so widely vilified for trying to please everyone.
It might also be that Trump will be “disjunctive.” Trump is officially of the same party as the current regime, but he has also challenged the deep state that supports that regime. Trump ran as a populist, but has stocked his cabinet with both members of the current regime and amateur billionaires that stand to benefit from Free-Market precepts.
We are now reaching the end of the fourth decade of the Reagan regime. Whether Trump will prove to be a reconstructive, articulating, or disjunctive President—that is, whether we are nearing the end, entering the middle, or about to double down on the Reagan regime—remains to be seen. Skowronek’s model is not predictive; it sets out possibilities rather than prophesies. Trump may launch a reconstruction or founder in disjunction, and over time the distinction between reconstruction and disjunction can begin to blur. The outcome will depend on Trump, his party, international events, the economy, and his opposition, both inside and outside the Democratic Party.
Which sort of President Trump becomes will depend on whether the neocon/neolib regime has figuratively, and literally, run out of gas. As I noted in a previous post, Andrew Bacevich expects Trump to be a transitional figure; what Robin would consider “disjunctive.”