Tuesday, January 24, 2017

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: The Establishment Is Dead; Long Live the Establishment!

What is really underlying the discontent, on both the left and
the right, with the recent election is an intuitive and bitter
understanding that the rules have changed.

Those who are pleased with the election outcome very much
wanted the rules to change --- although no one, including those
who are happy and those who are not, has a full understanding
of what the world will be like with new rules.

It was perhaps inevitable that those who will now lead the world
with new rules are among the least likely we might have
predicted to do so. Consider this: the new president is an aging
rich kid, who went to military school and an Ivy League
university, made billions of dollars in real estate deals, and talks
like dock worker. He has initially gathered around him military
generals, other billionaires and multi-millionaires, successful
business persons, and assorted political novices. All of them,
strong-minded and establishment figures in their own secular
worlds, will now enable the nation to replace a moribund
political establishment with a new one. None of them fits the
usual stereotype of a “revolutionary” --- yet revolutionaries
they are likely to be, at least for a while.

In time, of course, they will become the new establishment, and
if these new rules and new rulers have any longevity, they will
spawn an intractable political establishment of their own --- and
then be “overthrown” by still another voter mutiny.

That, of course, is getting way ahead of where we are now.  I
mention it because any political transition has an unknown but
definite time limit, and it is always useful to remember this
enduring long-term reality.

In the current version, the awareness of the scope of coming
changes is only dimly perceived. Liberals and the mainstream
media will act horrified by the Trump political re-set, but it
will be as much a theatrical performance as the one performed
by conservatives after 2009 when President Obama ushered in
his own re-set and transition.

Whereas the FDR transition lasted about 58 years under leaders
of both parties, and the Reagan transition lasted about 28 years
under leaders of both parties, the Obama transition appears to
have had a duration of only about 8 years --- and under only one
administration. The tenure of the Trump transition might last
only 4 years, or it might last decades. It will, as it always does,
depend on how successfully its policies work and become the
popular norm.

The new president in 2017, whomever it was to be, I wrote
repeatedly over the past two years, would face some very big
problems of public policy. In the previous establishment,
those on the left and the right, however different their solutions,
played by the same general rules. If the new opposition to Mr.
Trump and his administration of the government insists on
playing by the old rules, they are likely to fail, and fail badly.
That will be especially true if Mr. Trump’s and the Republicans’
policies succeed in bringing about the goals they promised and
the results they assured us would happen. On the other hand, if
a truly savvy and pragmatic liberal opposition develops (and
eventually it is very likely to do so), in time the political center
will turn back their way.

What we are witnessing now in the actions and rhetoric of those
who lost the election is blowing off disappointment steam ---
it’s understandable but it’s almost certain not to be very
productive, particularly with national mid-term elections now
only two years away. A turn too far left, however tempting it
might be, might well enable a new conservative establishment to
solidify itself with independent voters. This is what happened
in Great Britain and in France where the major left of center
parties are not, for the time being, viable in the immediate

Meanwhile, the coming days will reveal the new rules of the
national political game, as well as who will be the most able and
agile players on the political stage. The old rules no longer apply,
and the sooner all of us realize this, the quicker and more fully
we will understand what is really happening.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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