Charles Hugh Smith
The only way to govern successfully is to actually solve the underlying systemic problems, but doing that requires overthrowing a corrupt, self-serving elite.
Regardless of who wins the presidency, a much larger question looms: will the U.S. be ungovernable 2017-2020? There are multiple sources of the question.
One is of course the remarkable unpopularity of the two candidates for the presidency. For all the reasons that are tiresomely familiar, whomever wins the presidency will remain deeply unpopular with roughly 40% of the adult populace.
Though we can’t say “never,” let’s say it’s “extremely unlikely” that fans of Hillary Clinton will cotton to Donald Trump, or vice versa: both candidates have been public figures for decades, and it is highly unlikely that the usual “I will serve all the people” speech given by the new president will change many minds.
It’s not too difficult to foresee not just gridlock, but angry gridlock. Neither candidate can count on even the slightest shreds of goodwill from the other party, and with bi-partisanship already dead on arrival, precisely how much governance can any deeply reviled president offer the nation?
Whether pundits like it or not, one issue that will not go away after the election is the dominance of the nation’s financial and political elite: the top .01%. As many of us in the alternative media, and to a lesser but still significant degree, in the mainstream media have been noting, the dominance of the elite class of financiers and politicos has increased in the 21st century.
I have described this in a number of ways: the state-cartel model, neofeudalism (with the bottom 95% being either debt-serfs or dependents on state bread and circuses), or the neocolonialial-financialization model: The E.U., Neofeudalism and the Neocolonial-Financialization Model (May 24, 2012).
Simon Johnson, co-author of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown and White House Burning: Our National Debt and Why It Matters to You, described this as The Quiet Coup in a seminal 2009 essay:
“The finance industry has effectively captured our government–a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.”
Regardless of who they vote for, an increasing number of Americans are coming to understand that their oppressors are not foreign “terrorists” but homegrown elites who have become wealthier and thus more powerful in the past seven years of “prosperity.”
As I have shown many times, the top 5% of households have done very very well in the past few decades, and the bottom 95% have at best clung on and at worst seen the purchasing power of their earnings plummet.
You can’t fix this without overthrowing the status quo. Policy tweaks such as “more job training,” more social benefits, tax cuts for the middle class–none of those simulacra reforms will change the dynamic or the power structure of the U.S.
And since nobody in power is going to change the status quo that so richly benefits them, the resentment of the power elites will only grow in the next four years. The other unspoken issue is that the bottom 95% are starting to see through the Ministry of Propaganda’s unrelenting spew of fake factoids and “happy talk good news”:
All the “red button” issues boil down to this: the top .01% make all the important decisions to serve their own interests; the top 5% of technocrats and professionals who have done very well for themselves in the past seven years will support the elites, and the bottom 95% are effectively powerless– not just politically, but financially.
I would argue that Simon Johnson’s financial coup is 50 years behind the governance coup in which the Deep State decided the “people” must be stripped of power lest they mess up “what’s best for them,” which is of course decided for them by the elitist organs of the Deep State, which I have sketched out here:
You see the dilemma for the elites running the nation: if they keep exploiting the nation for their own benefit, they risk a social revolution that threatens their cozy state-cartel arrangement.
But if they return some power to the people–well, the people might actually renounce the Imperial Project, endless war, saber-rattling, and elite dominance of the nation.
Regardless of who wins the election, the U.S. will be ungovernable in a period of self-reinforcing crises. All the flim-flam financial gambits that created the illusion of prosperity are falling apart, and the Imperial Project is losing its grip on the narratives and on the ground.
The only way to govern successfully is to actually solve the underlying systemic problems, but doing that requires overthrowing a corrupt, self-serving elite, the same elite that will never relinquish its power or its wealth.