Trump and the concept of an elite.

blindboy's picture
blindboy started the topic in Sunday, 22 Jan 2017 at 3:02pm

Trump and the concept of an elite

One of the few consistent themes in Trump's rise to power has been his attack on the Washington elite. By this he appears to mean those who have the power to make policy, and those who profit from that policy. His promise to "drain the swamp" resonated with many voters who understand that their share of the US national wealth has been decreasing, while that of the elite has been increasing.

This analysis is valid, as far as it goes. No unbiased observer can doubt that globalisation, and the free trade agreements that have come with it, have severely impacted many American communities. Factories have shut down, real wages have dropped. Employment opportunities for unskilled or low skilled workers are in decline. People have every right to feel that they have been duped, and to resent those who have taken advantage of these changes to increase their already substantial wealth.

Trump's popularity, as far as it goes, rests on his promise to reverse these processes. The problem is that he won't. The first barrier to change would confront even the most genuine reformer. The economic power of globalisation has great momentum. Like one of those immense and grotesque cruise ships, it cannot easily be turned around and certainly not by a single nation, even one with the economic power of the US. To achieve the changes he talks about would take something he does not have, time. He has no time because he has raised expectations of immediate improvement. Failure to deliver will restrict him to a single term, or less.

The second barrier to change is his inclusion of another class in his definition of the elite; the public officials whose expertise allows the efficient implementation of government policy. There is no doubt that they can become as greedy and self-interested as their political masters, which is why changes of government are frequently used as an opportunity to prune excess, but no government can run without them. Trump has already dismissed too many significant figures, while others have chosen to leave in disgust rather than cooperate with the destruction of their work in fields such as health, education and the environment. Without these people his ability to achieve the changes he has promised is severely compromised.

Trump is right to see this class as an elite, but it is a different elite. It is an intellectual and educational elite. These are people with profound knowledge and skills built up over decades of study and work in specialist areas. It is one of the sadder aspects of US (and Australian!) culture that we are so uncomfortable with the notion of this elite. We have no problem with a sporting elite or an artistic elite whose skills and abilities are far beyond those of the wider community. It is only when we apply this same concept to intellectual and educational achievement that mockery and sarcasm outweigh appreciation. The notion that someone might be smarter than ourself is taken as an affack on our self esteem.

The third barrier is that his campaign, knowingly or not was built upon a lie. His government will entrench privelege and increase inequality. Through-out Obama's period in office Republicans consistently blocked legislation to raise minimum wages or provide greater support to struggling communities. Obama managed to get his health care package through and it is already being undone without a whisper of what might replace it. Even if Trump was genuine, which he clearly is not, he could not shift the Republican dominated congress. The consequences of this great betrayal will lead to unparalleled divisions in US society. Be glad you don't live there.

tonybarber's picture
tonybarber's picture
tonybarber Tuesday, 24 Jan 2017 at 9:21pm

Ahh, the wonders of self thinking robotic machines. Sorry FR, I am sure I said or typed 'making' not 'mowing' ....

Anyway, the US may have missed its opportunity to compete with China in manufacturing. Germany got it right. Interesting times really.

happyasS's picture
happyasS's picture
happyasS Tuesday, 24 Jan 2017 at 9:41pm

the best news is that real news now far exceeds the popularity of most American reality TV shows.

.....the sad part is that its still exactly the same star.

benski's picture
benski's picture
benski Tuesday, 24 Jan 2017 at 9:51pm

Those pesky elites, I mean women, this'll learn em, thinking they've got a right to protest and all.

Good work fellas.

But anyway wotevs, this stuff doesn't matter anyway because swamps and stuff.

benski's picture
benski's picture
benski Tuesday, 24 Jan 2017 at 9:53pm

happyasS, that's classic! Well done.

tonybarber's picture
tonybarber's picture
tonybarber Wednesday, 25 Jan 2017 at 11:41am

Here is an example of a 'pesky elite' - professor Michelle Simmons provided a good example, I suggest, of how the 'elite' (not her words btw) interfered with education. paradoxically she has support of many other academics but somehow the 'elites' changed the final year curriculum for the worse. Better if you hear from her -

sypkan's picture
sypkan's picture
sypkan Sunday, 29 Jan 2017 at 7:43am

It's not just blindboy that's gone all george bush "...good and evil....right and wrong...."

The whole liberal media are having the same perspective meltdown, losing any semblence of nuance, abandoning complexity, and resorting to the old faithful 'good and evil'.

They've become the Manichaeans as their authoritarian dogma is challenged, just like the christians they replaced.

I'm sorry but the constant name calling and bagging of any belief outside their accepted doctrine (excluding islam of course) has made the left appear to be...'the haters'.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Sunday, 29 Jan 2017 at 8:14am

"The whole liberal media are having the same perspective meltdown, losing any semblence of nuance"

The WHOLE liberal media have lost any semblance of NUANCE.

Seems they're not the only ones.

Also, weren't you the one who claimed left/right is redundant?

sypkan's picture
sypkan's picture
sypkan Sunday, 29 Jan 2017 at 9:05am

I'm talking the media establishment in america.

And their embeddedness into the clinton machine that shows itself more and more everyday

The sooner they gain some perspective the better, that bannon guy is right, they need to sit back for a while and regather their thoughts

Except for today, trump finally actually did something outrageous today... but its all just lost in the fuzz

It goes without saying the right lacks nuance

sypkan's picture
sypkan's picture
sypkan Sunday, 29 Jan 2017 at 10:01am

"They’re taking the bait because they think he’s dumb, and impulsive, and lacking self-control — but he’s the one causing them to act in ways that are dumb and impulsive, and demonstrate lack of self-control. As Richard Fernandez writes on Facebook, they think he’s dumb because they think he has lousy taste, but there are a lot of scarily competent guys out there in the world who like white and gold furniture."

Very funny but very true

"So what should the press do? It can keep responding the way it has responded so far, or it can change its approach. But the latter may require more self-discipline than it’s got.
The killer counter-move for the press isn’t to double down on anti-Trump messaging. The counter-move is to bolster its own trustworthiness by acting (and being) more neutral and sober, and by being more trustworthy. If the news media actually focused on reporting facts accurately and straightforwardly, on leaving opinion to the pundits, and on giving Trump a clearly fair shake, then Trump’s tactics wouldn’t work, and any actual dirt they found on him would do actual damage. He’s betting on the press being insufficiently mature and self-controlled to manage that. So far, his bet is paying off."

Even if the shellshocked press got their shit together now, it'll take years to regain some kind of public get on with it


GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley Sunday, 29 Jan 2017 at 10:09am

Sooner rather than later Trump needs to start working with Congress. That's when it will get very interesting. All that has happened thus far is bluster and fizz, the sort of shallow media "look at me I'm the best, biggest, shiniest" matinee performances Trump is famous for. The hollywood / media performer wannabe.

Now when he needs Congress, the good Republicans there will instruct him on what's legal and what's not, including his continual ownership of his business empire. Saw a Republican Congressman on TV the other day stating with very firm conviction that if Trump doesn't sell (or otherwise legally divest himself of ownership) his businesses he we be impeached. It goes back to their constitution something Republicans cannot ignore about Trump. The congressman was very clear "we will impeach him and we will get rid of him" he said.