Thursday, March 3, 2016

The rise of the unprotected

In Europe breaking (on TransConflict), I suggest that the renewed flood of refugees this year will tear up the reality of a border-less EU while raising a popular political backlash from the populist left and right.  As noted there, Peggy Noonan in a recent WSJ piece makes an interesting distinction between the "protected" and the "unprotected."  Taking her concept perhaps a little further than she does, the protected make public policy (and/or influence how it is made through money) while the unprotected are those who have to live in it (with no real influence over how its made). The protected make the decisions (directly or indirectly), living the good life secure in their own communities. Because they are mostly insulated from any negative effects of their policies, they feel they can impose anything on the rest. The unprotected live with none of these advantages. Noonan credits the rise of Trump in the US with his understanding that the unprotected have given up hope on the usual politics and politicians.  But this also explains the rise of populist parties in Europe where the unprotected live with insecurity and enforced austerity.

Here in the US, the protected are oddly enough taking on one of their own, Donald Trump.  He has cleverly rode -- enabled even -- a wave of angst from the unprotected to the lead in the Republican Party race for its presidential nomination.  The party grandees (and their moneyed supporters) are now taking unprecedented measures to try and cut him down.  They claim he is not a true conservative.  By this they mean he does not follow the mantra of any government is bad government, any taxes are bad taxes and any social welfare program is bad social welfare.  The "true conservatives" -- funded by the very rich contributing hundreds of millions of dollars -- don't need government.  They simply want to control it and use it for their own ends, including cutting tax rates on them and ensuring little money is "wasted" on the unprotected.  These folks don't like Trump.  He does not seem to share their reluctance to use government for certain ends.  While he wants to abolish "Obamacare" he also says he will "broaden healthcare access, make healthcare more affordable and improve the quality of the care available to all Americans."  On taxes, he would abolish most tax exemptions and "loopholes" for the rich and for corporations.  This almost sounds socialist.

Given Trump's anti-immigrant position and over-the-top rhetoric, he is not everyone's cup of tea.  But he has tapped into the same popular sense of having been left out that Bernie Sanders has. This all suggests a wave of revulsion against the rule of the protected that may sweep over the November elections and change the landscape or simply run aground against the rocks.  The protected will pull out everything they have to stop Trump.  Sanders they will leave to Hillary while burnishing their Bengazi/email knives for her.


Bob DuBose said...

The trouble with the generalities I make up in my head with my eyes closed is that when I open my eyes what I see often cannot be understood with my generalities.

Dividing the mass of humankind, or US/Europekind, into just two categories is similar to the Marxist division of proletariat and bourgeoisie. It sounds nice for a person used to arranging things neatly and mathematically, but to me it hardly explains either our society or what is happening in the world. It neatly ignores real economics, which are very complicated and not well bifurcated. It ignores the huge influence of overpopulation, unstable food and other resources, and my headache when I try to make sense of the unsenseable. Maybe I need another billion or so years (see earlier Gallucci blog). Cheers.

J.A. Kazlas said...

I have long said that there is an opportunity for some political movement to unite the "little guys" and "outsiders" on the left and right. There is a permeability between left and right at the edges: Mussolini started as a socialist, people who supported authoritarian right-wing parties in Central Europe before World War II often turned to Communist parties after the war. In America we had Huey Long, now Donald Trump. The frustration of the "little guys" also has the potential to be harnessed for progressive purposes, as Franklin Roosevelt did. My suggestion would be to choose a specific goal - universal Medicare would be ideal - to help people overcome the psychological obstacle of joining others who have different political labels, and openly appeal to conservatives, liberals, progressives, independents etc. to join for this one goal. Once they try it, they may like it and continue the alliance for other goals.

"Protected" and "unprotected" - brilliant categories. Thanks, I'll start using them.