Trump and Tribalism (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

Watching the rapid consolidation of the Republican Party around the candidacy of Donald Trump, I’ve tried to make sense of this in terms of the “three party system” analysis I presented a few months ago. I saw the Republicans as the “hard neoliberal” party relying on the votes of (white Christian) tribalists and making symbolic gestures in their direction, but largely ignoring them, particularly if their interests came into conflict with those of big business.

What’s become clear since then, I think, is that the Republican Party apparatus (politicians and party officials) is more tribalist than this analysis suggested. Faced with the prospect of electing their hated tribal enemy, Hillary Clinton, as President, the vast majority look like backing Trump (some, but not all of them, holding their nose as they do so).

From a hard neoliberal viewpoint, this makes no sense. Clinton’s Democratic Leadership Council background is that of the stereotypical soft neoliberal. Her candidacy is the best chance of maintaining the long-running alternation in office between the hard and soft variants of neoliberalism. Admittedly, she will be pulled to the left by the general shift exemplified by the Sanders insurgency, but she is unlikely to do anything that would fundamentally undermine capitalism. By contrast, a Trump takeover of the Republican Party would be a disaster for neoliberalism (which does *not* mean it would be good for the left). That would be the inevitable result of a Trump victory. Even a creditable defeat, which would be blamed on the old establishment, could leave the tribalists in control of the organization.

The only groups where the #NeverTrump analysis seems to hold sway are the business donor class and the remnants of the rightwing intelligentsia (hard to believe they were carrying all before them only 20 years ago). The donors obviously have no interest in throwing money at someone like Trump. As for the intelligentsia, even if they were willing to embrace Trump, it’s obvious he has no use for any but the most total hacks, and not even many of those.

62 thoughts on “Trump and Tribalism (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

  1. Thanks Ivor for posts #42 #44, #46 and #49.

    Tim Macknay on June 3rd, 2016 at 13:36,

    The comment posted to my web-site with links back to JohnQuiggin.com, which you refer to is Opposed to investigation of crime? (21/5/16).

    The post from you, to which I was responding, was in response to my earlier response to a previous ad-hominem attack:

    [Sinnamon’s co-blogger] links approvingly to a range of right and left wing conspiracy sites about UFOs, how Senator Joe MacCarthy was right about all those commies, the moon landings and so on ad nauseum. …

    It was harsh to say you were “taking sides with those, here and elsewhere, who wish to cover up the facts about the murder of President Kennedy on 22 November 1963” and that you have “no interest in finding out the truth of this matter,” and I apologise. What you said was:

    … , if I were interested enough to want to try to satisfy myself ‘what really happened’ wrt JFK’s death, I would look at all the primary sources I could find, including all the official stuff, i.e. the transcripts and reports of the Warren Commission, …

    However, it is well understood that the Warren Commission was a coverup of those behind the murder of JFK. That and the other coverups of those behind the murders of Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther and a good many other decent, humane potential leaders of the United States had catastrophic effects on the world back then and still do today. Whatever your intentions, the effect of such posts, in my opinion, is to further bury the facts behind JFK’s murder and of his great legacy as United States President.

    As for my statement:

    If all law enforcement officers were to adopt the mindset displayed by Tim Macknay, a good many more serious crimes would remain unsolved.

    … I think the contrast between what was achieved by the Warren Commission and others officially charged with ‘solving’ JFK’s murder and Jim’s Garrison’s efforts, which were subsequently endorsed by hearings in the United States Congress, bears that out.

  2. @Tim Macknay

    Strictly speaking no-one is an authority on geopolitical affairs be cause this is not a science.

    Roberts is an authoritative exponent of his point of view.

    I see him as a useful source along with others – Chomsky and, even still from his grave – Karl Marx.

  3. @James
    Alright, I have two things to say to that James.

    First, you know as well as I do that I did not make the ad hominem comment you’ve quoted, so I would appreciate it if you explicitly stated that you did not intend to imply that I did.

    Second, I can only say that it is stunningly disingenuous of you to deliberately cut off the quote of my comment regarding the primary sources about JFK’s assassination, in order to misrepresent what I said. The full paragraph of what I said, as you well know, stated:

    “But more broadly, if I were interested enough to want to try to satisfy myself ‘what really happened’ wrt JFK’s death, I would look at all the primary sources I could find, including all the official stuff, i.e. the transcripts and reports of the Warren Commission, any other material relating to official inquiries, as well as original source material of the critics of the Warren Commission, including Garrison.[emphasis added]

    I think it’s pretty obvious that the full quote does not support your, frankly insulting, statement about my ‘mindset’.
    Given the disingenuousness on display here, you can’t really expect me to take your apology seriously. I honestly have no idea what you hope to gain by this kind of thing, James. It’s a very poor standard of discourse.

  4. Tim Macknay June 3rd, 2016 at 17:29

    My post #51 of June 3rd, 2016 at 16:17 was intended as an apology. There was no intention to mislead anyone by omitting a small part of the quote that anyone else could find for themselves. Where else have I misquoted you in that way?

  5. @James
    How is that relevant? You misquoted me in your “apology”.

    At this point the appropriate response would be “yes. I omitted a crucial part of the quote that misrepresented its meaning. I should not have done that”. The other appropriate response is “I acknowledge that the ad hominem statement I quote earlier was not made by you and has no relevance to our discussion”.

  6. Tim Macknay,

    I take it then, that this is the only place where I have misquoted you in the way that you have described in #53?

    I have now come to understand what is the ad hominem statement that concerns you. The ad hominem statement was quoted in #51 above:

    [Sinnamon’s co-blogger] links approvingly to a range of right and left wing conspiracy sites about UFOs, how Senator Joe MacCarthy was right about all those commies, the moon landings and so on ad nauseum. …

    I apologise if I gave anyone the impression that you made that ad hominem attack on me last year on 20/5/15. I was simply trying to explain the context that caused me to react the way I did when you subsequently made that post which mentioned the Warren Commission (as if it were some sort of authoritative body, which it is not). I must have failed to notice where you subsequently added “as well as original source material of the critics of the Warren Commission, including Garrison.”

    That is why I reacted the way I did. I can see now that that was poor judgement on my part and I have apologised for that.

  7. Quote of the day:

    “At this point, if Trump proposed phrenology exams for government positions GOP leaders would nod silently.” – Micah Zenko.

    Quote on Geostrategy.

    “When the elephants fight, the ants get crushed.” – Free translation of a Zulu proverb.

  8. I didn’t subsequently add that bit – it was part of the original comment. However, I’m prepared to accept that you sincerely didn’t notice it. Apology accepted – read more carefully next time!

  9. Warmongering Clinton Accuses Trump of Madness (4/6/16) by Finian Cunningham | Sputnik International

    The above article confirms what I wrote previously in posts #8, #11, #15, #20, #22, #25 and #27 about Hillary Clinton. Finian Cunningham doesn’t personally like Donald Trump or even Bernie Sanders:

    Admittedly, if Sanders or Trump were to get elected, the prospect for America becoming a law-abiding peaceful nation is not much brighter, such is the endemic criminality of US foreign policy.

    Finian Cunningham continues:

    However, if Hillary Clinton makes it to the White House, the outlook for the world is a whole lot worse. If she can start so many wars as a diplomat, one shudders to think of what she will be capable of as Commander-in-Grief?

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