Democracy, Economy / Finance, Globalization, Justice, Neo-liberalism, Populism

There is no ‘right’ v ‘left’: it is Trump and the oligarchs against the rest

Jul 8 2019

Robert Reich*  – The Guardian

The president is the puppet master so Americans of all persuasions must look behind him, to where the real danger lies

I keep hearing that the Democratic party has moved “left” and that Democratic candidates may be “too far left”.

But in an era of unprecedented concentration of wealth and political power at the top, I can’t help wondering what it means to be “left”.

A half-century ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, those on the “left” sought stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads and research. Those on the “right” sought greater reliance on the free market.

But as wealth and power have concentrated at the top, everyone else – whether on the old right or the old left – has become disempowered and less secure.

Safety nets have unraveled, public investments have waned and the free market has been taken over by crony capitalism and corporate welfare cheats. Washington and state capitals are overwhelmed by money coming from the super rich, Wall Street and big corporations.

Divide-and-conquer makes the rest of us puppets, fighting each other on a made-up stage

So why do we continue to hear and use the same old “right” and “left” labels?

I suspect it’s because the emerging oligarchy feels safer if Americans are split along the old political battle lines. That way, Americans won’t notice they’re being shafted.

In reality, the biggest divide in America today runs between oligarchy and democracy. When oligarchs fill the coffers of political candidates, they neuter democracy.

The oligarchs know politicians won’t bite the hands that feed them. So as long as they control the money, they can be confident there will be no meaningful response to stagnant pay, climate change, military bloat or the soaring costs of health insurance, pharmaceuticals, college and housing.

There will be no substantial tax increases on the wealthy. There will be no antitrust enforcement to puncture the power of giant corporations. There will be no meaningful regulation of Wall Street’s addiction to gambling with other peoples’ money. There will be no end to corporate subsides. CEO pay will continue to skyrocket. Wall Street hedge fund and private equity managers will continue to make off like bandits.

So long as the oligarchy divides Americans – split off people of color from working-class whites, stoke racial resentments, describe human beings as illegal aliens, launch wars on crime and immigrants, stoke fears of communists and socialists – it doesn’t have to worry that a majority will stop them from looting the nation.

Divide-and-conquer allows the oligarchy free rein. It makes the rest of us puppets, fighting each other on a made-up stage.

Trump is the puppet master.

He has been at it for years, long before he ran for president. He knows how to pit native-born Americans against immigrants, the working class against the poor, whites against blacks and Latinos.

Trump can make the working class believe they’re losing jobs because of ‘deep state’ bureaucrats and Hillary Clinton

He is well-versed in getting evangelicals and secularists steamed up about abortion, equal marriage rights, out-of-wedlock births, access to contraception, transgender bathrooms.

He knows how to stir up fears of brown-skinned people from “shitholes” streaming across the border to murder and rape, and stoke anger about black athletes who don’t stand for the national anthem.

He’s a master at fueling anxieties about so-called communists, socialists and the left taking over America.

He can make the white working class believe they’ve been losing good jobs and wages because of a cabal of Democrats, “deep state” bureaucrats and Hillary Clinton.

From the start, Trump’s deal with the oligarchy has been simple: he’ll stoke tribalism so most Americans won’t see CEOs getting exorbitant pay while they’re slicing the pay of average workers, so most Americans won’t pay attention to Wall Street demanding short-term results over long-term jobs, won’t notice a boardroom culture that tolerates financial conflicts of interest, insider trading and the outright bribery of public officials through unlimited campaign “donations”.

The only way to overcome the oligarchy and Trump’s divide-and-conquer strategy is for the rest of us to join together and win America back.

That means creating a multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition of working-class, poor and middle-class Americans who will fight for democracy and oppose oligarchy.

White, black and Latino; union and non-union; evangelical and secular; immigrant and native-born – all focused on ending big money in politics, stopping corporate welfare and crony capitalism, busting up monopolies and stopping voter suppression.

This agenda is neither “right” nor “left”. It is the bedrock for everything else America must do.

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*Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good. He is also a columnist for Guardian US

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Annex:

British Government Stands Behind Ambassador Who Called Donald Trump ‘Incompetent’ and ‘Insecure’

By Jason Lemon  – Newsweek

A spokesperson for the British government has defended the country’s ambassador to the U.S. after leaked cables revealed that the diplomat had called President Donald Trump “inept,” “insecure” and “incompetent,” saying that the White House was “uniquely dysfunctional” under the current administration.

British tabloid The Daily Mail first reported the comments by Ambassador Kim Darroch on Saturday and they were later confirmed by CNN. Responding publicly with an official statement, a spokesperson for the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office argued that the diplomat had acted correctly in providing an “honest” assessment of the current American administration.

“The British public would expect our ambassadors to provide ministers with an honest, unvarnished assessment of the politics in their country,” the spokesperson said, Politico reported Sunday. “Their views are not necessarily the views of ministers or indeed the government. But we pay them to be candid. Just as the U.S. Ambassador here will send back his reading of Westminster politics and personalities.”

British Justice Secretary David Guake also defended the diplomat’s remarks but criticized the leak to the public. He said it is important for ambassadors to provide “honest and unvarnished advice to their country,” according to the BBC. Continuing, he said: “It is disgraceful that it’s been leaked, but we should expect our ambassadors to tell the truth, as they see it.”

The secret memos from the ambassador were sent directly to the prime minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street in London. In the documents, Darroch expressed significant skepticism that the Trump administration would ever become “substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.”

He also pointed out that Trump has been unsuccessful at achieving many of his controversial campaign promises despite dramatic and public efforts to do so.

“Of the main campaign promises, not an inch of the Wall has been built; the executive orders on travel bans from Muslim countries have been blocked by the state courts; tax reform and the infrastructure package have been pushed into the middle distance; and the repeal and replacement of Obamacare is on a knife edge,” Darroch pointed out.

The prominent diplomat also criticized Trump’s policy toward Iran, referring to it as “incoherent, chaotic.”

The U.K. and the U.S. have for decades enjoyed a so-called “special relationship,” with both nations supporting each other on the international stage as close allies. Under Trump, that relationship has been strained on a few issues, including the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord and the Iran nuclear deal. British leaders have been highly critical of both decisions, while insisting that ties remain close with Washington.

Right-wing British politician Nigel Farage, who leads the Brexit party and has often praised Trump, slammed Darroch for the derogatory remarks. He argued on Twitter that the ambassador was “totally unsuitable for the job” and that the “sooner he is gone the better.”

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