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.