What Comes After Donald Trump?

Donald Trump will leave office in either January 2021 or January 2025.  I certainly don’t know which year it will be or who will be the next President.  Trump is a populist disrupter.  The real question is: do we return to “normal” after he is gone or rather set off in a new direction?


The New America scholar, Michael Lind, has a timely book: ”The New Class War: saving democracy from the managerial elite” which explores this very important question.

Says Mr. Lind:

  • The hub-heartland divide that is reshaping politics is the geographic manifestation of a class divide. The interests of hub-city over-classes and heartland working-classes collide when it comes to environmental policies, trade, immigration and values.
  • Between 1999 and 2009 U.S. multinational corporations cut 864,600 workers in the U.S. while adding 2.9 million workers abroad.
  • The center of gravity of the over-class is center-right (pro-market) on economic issues and center-left on social issues. In comparison, the center of gravity of the much larger working-class is just the opposite.
  • Populists have succeeded because they opportunistically champion legitimate positions that are shared by many voters but excluded from the narrow neoliberal over-class political spectrum. For example, a 2018 poll found that 64% of Americans, including 53% of Latinos, favor immediately deporting anyone who crosses the border illegally.
  • Populism is a sign of a sick body politic, not a cure.
  • Only a new democratic pluralism that compels managerial elites to share power with the multiracial, religiously pluralistic working class for the economy, politics and culture can end a cycle of oscillation between oppressive technology and destructive populism.
  • The neoliberal establishment panaceas of higher education, retraining, geographic mobility, redistribution, and anti-monopolism may ameliorate the symptoms but will not cure the disease: the imbalance of power between the over-class and the working-class.
  • The alternative to both technocratic neoliberalism and demagogic populism is democratic pluralism.
  • The rootedness of most working-class Americans in their hometowns and regions is often lamented by the intellectuals of the managerial over-class.
  • It has been argued that “democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration are mutually incompatible.” The solution to this “impossibility theorem” is to give up on global integration.
  • Every democratic nation-state should tailor both its immigration policy and its trade policy to promote the interests of the members of its working-class majority, native-born and foreign-born alike.
  • Managerial elites are destined to dominate the economy and society of every modern nation.
  • But the new class war will come to an end in one of only two ways: either there will be a new cross-class compromise embodied in a new democratic pluralist order or, the grim alternative: a future of gated communities and mobs led by demagogues at their gates.

Conclusion.  Mr. Lind’s message is clear: the neoliberal over-class must learn how to effectively work with the working-class on their common interests.  This is the answer to the question of the title:  Donald Trump is a demagogic disrupter.  What we need next is a bridge builder between the elite over-class and the working-class.

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4 thoughts on “What Comes After Donald Trump?

  1. It is likely that the dimensions underlying our nation’s survival since 1950 are as yet not fully recognizable. The temptation to project our nation’s future evolution based on an enigmatic politician should be recognized as best said by Mark Twain about himself. “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

    Last summer, the Gallop poll released the results of a study to evaluate the “Share of Americans who have a ‘great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in 15 of our nation’s prominent institutions. The military was the best at 78%, the medical system ranked 7th at 36%, newspapers ranked 13th at 23%, and Congress ranked 15th (worst of the 15) at 11%. My own analysis of this small data set is that our nation’s problems must begin with a community based, locally initiated, and nationally guided collaborative process to reestablish our nation’s social cohesion, community by community.

    • Granted that Trump is enigmatic in the sense of being non-normal, I see his effect as being a disrupter. What comes after disruption? A return to normal or a new direction? I suspect a little of both. For sure the working class, as opposed to the ruling elite, will have a bigger say, one way or the other.

  2. Both parties are now pandering, with a few exceptions, to the desire of the majority of voters to completely ignore our ticking time bomb, the growing government deficits and our national debt. Our day of reckoning will probably make the wrenching day of reckoning of Greece look mild. (Greece is still in an economic depression after being bailed out.) We either seriously address our ticking time bomb now or it will explode at some point. The math always wins out in the end.


    • I agree with you. The new crisis will hit when interest rates rise appreciably. But at only 2% annual growth, this could be a few years off. In the meantime, how the country responds to Trumpian disruption is the big question.

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