Phat City Politics

I think that the whole Trump thing started about six years ago.

You'll remember that there were a lot of angry people at that time upset about the Great Recession. So they created the Tea Party with the express purpose of cleaning out the swamp that had caused the recession and bailed out the bankers. They wanted their economic concerns addressed then. But at the time their main targets were not so much Democrats as other Republicans, since it was the Republicans under Bush who had been at the helm when the economic house of cards fell.

They were a bit hard to take seriously then, because many of the people they elected seemed as clueless as Trump seems now. But they were elected on the idea that the common man and woman knew enough to know what to do. It was experts, after all, who crashed the economy. That they were already being manipulated into believing that the Recession was caused by government policies (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and their pal Acorn) and too much regulation(!) and undeserving poor people buying all of those McMansions at inflated prices made the Tea Pariters look more clueless. But they won, and they have continued to win down to the last election, on variations of the theme that it's all the government's fault and the experts are only there to fool them.

If Obama did anything, he was able to keep them at bay. They kept firing rounds trying to dismantle what's left of the New Deal and he vetoed them almost every time. Since during the last six years he never had a Congress and Senate of his own, he didn't pursue the economic and regulatory laws that we needed. Rather, he went after things he could achieve, especially in the areas of civil rights. He also pursued a rather neo-con trade and foreign policy, but here he got more support from the GOP. I think that it was the neo-con nexus that Clinton was counting on to get what support she could from the Right.

People are running around like Trump is this radical new thing. But It looks to me more as if Trump is simply unleashing what would have been unleashed if any Republican had won four years ago. Or now, for that matter. I don't think Trump was voted in on the basis of a policy plan, since he doesn't have one. I think it was his style that appealed, since the Tea Party people have been thwarted for so long. Trump runs as a decisive person who cuts through everything. So he's finally going to execute what they have wanted, and the log jam is now clear.

The Democrats have not focused on local races as much as they should have. I imagine that the idea with Clinton was to put another person in office who would veto the Tea Party and then perhaps the Left could begin working on the local game. But they lost the gamble and now they have lost the executive, legislative, and, in a couple of months, the judicial branches all at once. But I don't think anyone can say that it wasn't coming.

And why is the Tea Party trying to dismantle things that actually help their members, like Obamacare, public schools, and environmental and other regulations? Part of it is that their controllers have succeeded in blaming these things for other unrelated problems. Obamacare isn’t causing insurance rates to go up across the board in the U.S., for example. But another part of it is what I will call Phat City Politics and it goes like this.

When a policy, law, regulation or whatever is created to solve a problem and it does solve it, people forget about the original problem and say “Why do we need this regulation when we don’t have this problem?” The air is pretty clean now, so why do we need environmental regulations? Lots of African Americans vote now, so why do we need voting-rights laws? I’ve even had arguments with people who think that we no longer need child-labor laws, since children don’t work anymore. When the problem leaves and the law is left standing, then the law looks like an unnecessary burden. So why not get rid of it?

In any case, I think we need to do what we should have done when we missed a golden opportunity after the Recession hit.  Because that’s when this all started.

unagidon is a contributing editor to Commonweal.

Please email comments to letters@commonwealmagazine.org and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

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