Money in Politics: The One Issue That Matters

On August 25, 2015, the New York Times posted the article “Donald Trump, the Green Lantern Candidate” by Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan), a political scientist and assistant professor at Dartmouth. It continues to be cited today.

This article perfectly illustrates the inability of the pundits and the politicians to understand what is going on, because they’ve failed to grasp that money in politics is the one issue that drives all the others. I thought I’d illustrate by quoting his article and providing my rebuttal. Let me preface my comments by saying I am a Canadian, and not a Trump supporter (rather, an interested observer).

Why is Donald Trump leading the polls in the G.O.P. presidential race? One explanation is his celebrity and the media attention he attracts.

Another is that he is talking about issues that no one in the establishment will, like immigration and money in politics.

We like to pretend that presidents exert vast control over the country, commanding not only the direction of American politics but also the laws and policies of the country and even the state of the economy.

In the case of a true leader in the right circumstances (like a world war or a 19 trillion dollar debt), there is no need to pretend. Winston Churchill commanded Britain, dominating politics, policies and the economy during the second world war. The question is, is Trump truly the leader that he claims to be, or will he bend to the will of the corporations, as Obama did with the TPP.

Mr. Trump … cleverly exploits the appeal of presidential omnipotence by contrasting his supposedly decisive style of business leadership as a real estate magnate with the compromises, inertia and policy failures that are inevitable in politics.

Trump does not deny the need to compromise. Inertia and policy failures are not inevitable, as shown by Kennedy’s success in rallying America to land a man on the moon. If Kennedy had believed that inertia was inevitable, he would never have set the audacious goal of landing a man on the moon in less than a decade.

Most notably, Mr. Trump blames trade deals made by President Obama and other leaders for job losses that are largely the result of structural changes in the economy.

Structural changes brought on by NAFTA (courtesy of the other Clinton) and other corporate friendly trade policies that enable companies to outsource the lost jobs. So how is Trump wrong, exactly?

Mr. Trump suggests that he could magically bring back the manufacturing jobs that have disappeared from the United States. If he is elected, he said during the announcement speech, he’ll “bring back our jobs from China, from Mexico, from Japan, from so many places.”

Actually, he’s suggested getting tough with tariffs, which are hardly “magical”. Tariffs are a huge double edged sword, as discussed by Peter Schiff in his brilliant video “Can Trump Make America Great Again?” on the real problems with Trump’s economic policies. The question is, is Trump smart enough to wield such dangerous weapons against others without damaging America.

Mr. Trump attributes the decline in American manufacturing jobs not to global economic trends but to the fact that the leaders of countries like Mexico and China are “smarter and more cunning” than our leaders. If he is tougher and more skilled in negotiating, Mr. Trump suggests, the jobs will come back.

Raising “global economic trends” as the boogeymen is less intelligent than painting Mexico and China as enemies. The true source of the “economic trends” are the global corporations, who donated millions to Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton to buy influence, have America lie down, and let Mexico and China have their way, all so that the corporate leaders and their shareholders could profit.

Though most economists say his claims are dubious, these boasts offer a simpler and more appealing narrative than the realities of the current global economy. So maybe it’s no surprise that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric is resonating with voters who have endured stagnant wages and who have been led to believe that presidents can control the economy.

What a surprise that “most economists”, who are the very ones who have led America to the brink of bankruptcy, would say his claims are dubious. Yes, he is selling hope. Then again, to keep doing what hasn’t worked is the definition of insanity. The establishment have proven themselves to be neither liberals nor conservatives, but rather, self serving corporatists.

Other politicians can’t easily knock down his claims given their own proclivity for making exaggerated promises and claims about what they will accomplish as president. Mr. Trump is in a sense calling their bluff.

It’s not their boasts, it’s the fact that they are all backed by the corporations, except for Bernie Sanders and, to a lesser extent, Ted Cruz. Can you believe anything Hillary says? I find it hard to believe that the socialist platform she espoused during her campaign had anything to do with what she would have delivered to Goldman Sacks and her other donors were she elected.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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