Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Election 2016: A Reflection

 Failure of the political and media elite fuel Trump and Sanders phenomenons in both parties

Anti-system candidates: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders
Donald Trump officially won the Republican nomination for President of the United States last night in Cleveland. The question many are asking is: How did the country get here? Consider the following facts and the reasons for the political earthquake become clear.

A silent epidemic
African Americans in the United States can expect to live until age 76, while white Americans are likely to live until age 79, on average there is a 3.4 year difference. This is an improvement over previous years with both African Americans and Hispanic mortality rates steadily dropping. However since 1995 white mortality rates have dropped at a slower rate when compared to other groups. Worse yet between 1999 and 2014 mortality rates among middle class whites have actually increased while that of other racial groups have continued to decline. Main causes of this increased mortality are: suicide, chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis, alcohol and drug poisoning.

This trend is not being repeated in other European countries. According to a December 2015 Princeton study this "silent epidemic" has claimed half a million lives and can be traced to distress in the population with the inability to find work a major factor. There is also new data that points to increasing mortality not only among middle age but also young whites. How does all this relate to the 2016 presidential election? According to Jeff Guo in The Washington Post on March 4, 2016 Donald Trump performed the best in places where middle-aged whites are dying the fastest.

Economic distress

The official government unemployment figure is 4.9% but other reliable and more accurate statistics range between 6.3% on the low end to  the U6 unemployment range which is 9.9%. More controversial but accepted in some quarters is John Williams' Shadow Government Stats that places June 2016 unemployment at 22.9%. These numbers provide plenty of room for despair. First is the fact that official numbers promoted in the mass media are not necessarily accurate.

Secondly, the disappearance of higher paying manufacturing jobs has been the result of trade agreements that have negatively impacted U.S. workers but at the same time has benefited and enriched a powerful few.  Most of U.S. manufacturing ended up in mainland China and has assisted in modernizing that country and its military which is now expanding in the region and making itself felt worldwide to the detriment of U.S. national and security interests. How has this bipartisan China policy benefited the average American? This is not being discussed on the national stage.

If the political and media elite are unwilling even to address the problem with accurate statistics then what hope is there of solving the problem?  This is why the Trump and Sanders phenomenons erupted on the national political scene. Voters are frustrated.

Exacerbating racial tensions
Meanwhile rather than having this national conversation the debate has been returned to the old obsession and the so-called "original sin" of the United States: Race.

Consider for a moment that according to The Washington Post 990 people were killed by police officers in 2015 out of  a total of 12.2 million arrests with nearly half of all killed being white non-hispanics followed by a little over a quarter that were African American and 17%  who were hispanic.  A disturbing subset of data was the statistical breakdown of 93 unarmed individuals killed by the police in 2015 with four out of ten being African American followed by three out of ten being white non-hispanics and nearly two out of ten hispanics. Meanwhile there were 42 police officers shot and killed in 2015.

There is a problem that needs to be addressed but it has been magnified and distorted by the media and political actors to create the sensation of a clear and present danger for African Americans when being stopped by the police facing a great risk of being killed. The high profile killing of police in the United States in reaction to a media campaign demonizing the police will also have an impact in the presidential election.

It is interesting that those publicly mentioned as possibly funding Black Lives Matter have an interest in maintaining the status quo on trade and globalism in the United States and avoiding a national conversation on these two subjects. This brings us to a topic that the political and media elite are at odds with the majority of the citizens of the United States and that is immigration.

Illegal immigration and changing the political culture
Fredo Arias-King served as senior adviser to the National Action Party of Mexico during its presidential campaign in 1999–2000.  In July of 2006 he wrote an important paper for the Center for Immigration Studies titled "Immigration and Usurpation: Elites, Power, and the People’s Will" about the disconnect between public opinion and elite actions in the United States with regards to illegal immigration.

Arias-King speculated in this paper what motivated U.S. politicians to tolerate and even encourage the phenomenon of illegal immigration and where it could eventually lead predicting the rise of a Trump-like candidate that could seize the immigration issue to respond to the demands of a populace outraged at the lack of response from the political class.
Samuel Huntington speculated that the American "creed" (values and beliefs) cannot be used to openly oppose mass immigration.16 That may change. So far, the immigration debate has centered on the immigrants themselves—whether they are worthy or unworthy. This debate is a red herring, since average Americans are unusually kind and restrained in the face of mass immigration, something that cannot be said about other nations (including Mexico).17 Recent poll findings from Zogby challenge the popular belief that the average American somehow has negative or overtly prejudicial feelings toward Mexicans in particular.18 However, Huntington did not take into account the possibility that the debate could yet be framed in terms of potential usurpation from the political class using immigration as a tool. If an organizeable mass of Americans comes to suspect that mass immigration from Latin America is being used by the political class to undermine their democracy and as a tool to liberate the political elites from the Jeffersonian and Madisonian constraints, then indeed we may witness a reaction—but hopefully not against the immigrants themselves, as they are also objects of elite manipulations in more than one country. The Founding Fathers also prescribed a cure for usurpation. Hopefully the American people will not apply it so literally, for the sake of those legislators.
The conclusion reached by the author that the American political class was using mass immigration to change the electorate in order to make the citizenry more malleable and thus politicians able to get away with being less accountable was a controversial proposition in 2006 but seems much less so today. The loss of faith in governing institutions in the United States by large sectors of the electorate is behind the success of Donald Trump, a business man with no political experience and Bernie Sanders, a socialist with a communist background who honeymooned in the Soviet Union in 1988. However Sanders was against open borders and globalization but his support for an amnesty for 11 million in the United States probably cost him the nomination.

Shadows in the Fall: Foreign policy
Foreign policy failures are felt here in the United States. The argument that we fight them over there to avoid fighting them over here rings hollow in the electorate who are now backing a candidate who opposed the war in IraqTerror attacks linked to Islamic extremism have impacted across the nation in recent years: Orlando, Florida (2016),  Chattanooga, Tennessee (2015), San Bernardino, California (2015), and Boston, Massachusetts (2013). Meanwhile events in Turkey point to an ominous new turn with Erdogan's consolidation of power, purges, and crushing of the military following what appears to have been a coup with a counter-coup underway that could lead to the rise of a fully Islamic regime in NATO. The cry of "who lost Turkey?" may become a theme in the foreign policy debate in the presidential election in the United States this fall. There are other hot spots in the world and Libya can be blamed directly on Hillary Clinton.

These are trying times for the American Republic and the social, political, and media elite had best wake up, look out for the interests of their fellow citizens, and how to rebuild the middle class or get out of the way.

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