2016 or 2020? Pick Your Poison


What if a Clinton victory in November increased the risk someone worse than Trump gets elected in 2020? Would you still feel so comfy about the urgency of the next few Supreme Court picks?

Nearly three years ago, I wrote Wake Up Progressives, a post inspired as many of my posts are by Chris Hedges, who I consider to be the canary in the coal mine. Quoting Hedges:

“When you have the figures like Obama who continue to speak in that traditional language of liberalism and yet cannot respond to chronic unemployment, underemployment, you know, foreclosures, bank repossessions, and everything else, and in fact are running a system where the assaults against the underclass are only getting worse, then what happens is there becomes a deep disdain for not only liberal ideology but traditional liberal institutions—you saw the same thing in Weimar—so that when there is an uprising, oftentimes people want nothing to do with not only liberal elites, but the supposed liberal values, quote unquote, that these elites were purportedly espousing,” Hedges says.

“And that is a very real danger,” he continues, “because when you have figures like Obama that present themselves as traditional liberals and yet are unable to be effective in terms of dealing with the suffering and the misery of the underclass, that—and this is what happened in Yugoslavia—that when things exploded, you vomited up these very frightening figures—Radovan Karadzic, Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudman—in the same way that the breakdown in Weimar vomited up the Nazi Party. And that’s what frightens me, because we don’t have the movements, the populist movements on the left, and because we live in a system of political paralysis.”

I then explored that in the context of something else I’d observed:

Put Hedges aside for a bit, and focus on what’s happening in America on the populist right. I’ve previously written about right-wing viral emails because I find them laughably illogical or flat out moronic. But one I recently received, and the attitude of my conservative friend who sent it to me, is chilling. The email is essentially a cut and paste of a four-year old blog post by Frosty Wooldridge, How Immigration and Multi-Culturalism Destroyed Detroit. The post lays the decline of Detroit at the feet of the three groups most scapegoated in America — Blacks, Mexican Immigrants, and Muslims — in a fashion designed to maximize the anger and disgust of a tea party reader. [emphasis mine]

That was in 2013, a mere 7 months into Obama’s second term.  Two years later, Donald Trump rode his Trump Tower escalator down to his campaign kick-off, from where he rocketed to the top of the polls by demonizing Mexican immigrants. He later bolstered his lead by calling for a ban on Muslim immigrants.

I concluded my post three years ago by asking if America could vomit up a Ted Cruz. Cruz, at the time, was one our immigrant bashers in chief. My speculation missed the mark, but not by much. And I underestimated the risk, if anything.

There’s a corollary to what I wrote three years ago. The longer we go on with leaders [falsely] presenting themselves as traditional liberals yet unable to be effective with the suffering and misery of the underclass, the worse the potential right-wing backlash will be, and the worse the leader that backlash will vomit up.

It’s as if we’re on a slowly rising platform. The fall from being pushed off will hurt, but the longer we wait hang on, the worse it ultimately will hurt.

So, consider how the stars may be aligning for 2020, if you will. For the third presidential cycle in a row, America likely will elect a supposedly liberal Democrat. She has no clear agenda to address the suffering and misery of the underclass. Her supporters come mainly from the professional class. They (and she) are focused on things like the “knowledge economy” and expanding the “creative class.” But direct action to alleviate poverty or strengthen unions? No way. That’s far too 20th century for the crowd about to take executive power.

After seven years without a recession, it’s unlikely we can go four more without a hiccup. And what will happen when that inevitable recession hits? I’m betting we’ll see tax cuts for the rich, probably in the form of lowering the tax rate on capital gains. And when the tax rate on capital gains is cut, an even larger share of our wealth and income will flow to the top. It always does.

Throw in a scandal or two and a couple unsuccessful military adventures, and we’ll have a population seething with rage four years from now.

Would Trump then pick up in 2020 where he leaves off after losing this November? No way. He’ll be too moderate by then, and he’ll know it.

I’ll end this post where I started that post from three years ago:

Ultimately, my point is that while progressives are hyper-focusing on issues like abortion rights, spending enormous amounts of energy to elect spineless politicians destined to disappoint them, and celebrating what they believe is the implosion of the Republican Party, we are headed towards a disastrous outcome in America.

Yep. And in 2020, we’ll be wishing our problem were a Trump candidacy.


  1. I think think your concerns are far more accurate than most people are willing to acknowledge. We may be a representative democracy, but we have too many people demanding too much (often conflicting demands) from an ever more expensive and domineering central government which appears ever less capable of meeting those demands. Comparisons with the Weimar Republic are uncomfortable because of the similarities to what we face now.

    The fact that two of the most despised people in our Country are going to be selected to run for President is an indicator that we are moving in the direction you predicted three years ago. It is a sad state of affairs…

    • Steve, I agree with your second paragraph, but it’s worse than that. Consider how entrenched our corrupt two party duopoly is at this point. If ever there were an election in which voters should be considering other parties, this is it, yet virtually nobody is. Instead, those who bristle at the choice presented to them are being scolded for not meekly submitting and supporting the “lesser of evils.” Wouldn’t it be a better result if you, Steve, and millions like you voted for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate and I and millions like me voted for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate?

      • Years ago I would have voted for Gary Johnson, but I’m all grown up now.

        I’m voting for Jill Stein, (thanks for the tip on a previous post, Bob).

        Queue some whining about Ralph Nader, whatever, I know people will say I’m wasting my vote. I could not disagree more.

        My vote is my voice in my government, and voting for someone who does not share my values because, while they’re bad, they’re not as bad, is truly wasting my vote.

      • I have thought about going Libertarian this time simply because I can’t bring myself to vote for Trump. It is certainly a viable option in this particular election cycle.

  2. How did we get to a place where the preferred candidate of Wall Street and the defense industry is the Democrat?

  3. Bob, you have created quite the paradox here. You are not an unitelligent individual, but I question how much of your passion is interfearing with your logic. There are three branches of government in our country. A president is a leader of sorts and has the ability to drive the conversation. However, as history will show you, that leader is only as effective as the people and the other two branches. Just look at the past eight years.

    You desire somebody “revolutionary” in nature to change things, but how so? Is it your view that somehow Sanders would change it all? How does a progressive president change anything if our legislature goes unchanged for the same reasons you stated above? How does Sanders move an agenda without a legitamate court? It seems you are predicting Hitler if there is no Bulshevic revolution tomorrow.

    Ours is a a democracy Bob. It is imperfect in many ways. It is our job to strengthen the insitutions we have in place to see it through for the future. The tired arguments on BOTH sides of “everthing at all costs or nothing at all” must end. You may not get all the leaders or choices you want each cycle and that is okay. It is imperative we fight each time as to get to where we need so that in the end that balance is struck. And in the end, is that not what this country has long been about?

    • But democracies fail, and ours may have already or at least could be in the process of imploding. Check out Wolin’s Inverted Totalitarianism on that front. You seem to be assuming that the system you’ve known for your entire life automatically will continue, but there’s no basis for that assumption. Chomsky has observed that the way to deny real choice in a democracy is to present a very narrow range of choices, but with open and loud discourse regarding the choices presented.

      • “Happy #CincoDeMayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!”

        You think we could get much worse?

  4. “What if a Clinton victory in November increased the risk someone worse than Trump gets elected in 2020? Would you still feel so comfy about the urgency of the next few Supreme Court picks?”

    Yes, absolutely. As a member of the LGBT community, the thought of Kennedy and/or Ginsburg being replaced by Republican nominees is a terrifying scenario. With the rise of laws like North Carolina’s HB2, a more conservative SCOTUS would make it possible for the anti-LGBT right to legislate our humanity out of existence.

    Sorry if that makes me a ‘single-issue’ voter….

    • Welcome to the underside of the Single Issue Zealot bus, along with us silly hysterical females who don’t want to be in a constant state of pregnancy!

      • Hush!

        If the driver finds out I also support Reproductive Choice, I’ll get kicked off of the Single Issue Zealot bus – LOL.

    • There are a lot of Republicans who support equality for those who are LGBT and generally youth of all political parties, even the GOP, tend to strongly favor LGBT equality. Even a Republican SCOTUS nominee might well play nice with LGBT rights. It’s not the best situation, but I’d rather risk many Republican-appointed justices on LGBT rights than risk the possibility of someone worse than Trump in 2020.

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