In The New York Times, R.R. Reno has an article on how progressives and conservatives lost the confidence of the White middle class:
“LONG after the dust settles in Iowa — and New Hampshire, and even the 2016 campaign itself — one question will remain: Why, after decades of supporting the liberal and conservative establishments, did the white middle-class abandon them? Wherever Donald J. Trump and Bernie Sanders end up, their candidacies represent a major shift in American politics. Since World War II our political culture has been organized around the needs, fears and aspirations of white middle-class voters in ways that also satisfied the interests of the rich and powerful. That’s no longer true.
As we know, the rich are now quite a bit richer. In itself, this need not disrupt the old political consensus. More decisive is the fact that the white middle class is in decline, both economically and culturally. …”
I’m going to start calling it the “uniparty” because the Democrats and Republicans enforce a “mainstream” consensus on several vital issues: both are committed to maintaining the US Empire and “America’s leadership role” overseas, both are committed to further globalization through new free-trade deals, both have repeatedly joined forces to push for open borders, both enforce the norms of political correctness and engage in endless virtue-signaling online, and both are in the pocket of the “billionaire class.”
In retrospect, there really hasn’t been much change through the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama years regardless of which party has been in power:
Immigration – Ronald Reagan’s most noteworthy accomplishment on immigration was the 1986 IRCA Amnesty which promised to “secure the border” while giving citizenship to millions of illegal aliens. George H.W. Bush expanded legal immigration with the Immigration Act of 1990. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush refused to “secure the border.” In 1996, the Republican Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1996, which was laughably never enforced by either party. George W. Bush and Barack Obama have repeatedly taken shots at “comprehensive immigration reform.” The elites have long conspired to advance their mutual goal of “there shall be open borders.”
Free Trade – Did you know that NAFTA was Ronald Reagan’s idea? Reagan signed the original free trade agreement with Canada that was the predecessor of NAFTA. His successor George H.W. Bush envisioned a “new world order” of global free-trade and negotiated NAFTA which was signed into law by Bill Clinton. It was Clinton who surrendered American sovereignty to the WTO which was created in 1995. It was also Clinton who granted permanent normal trade relations to China and celebrated China’s entry into the WTO which is the primary cause of our enormous trade deficit.
The free-trade baton was passed to George W. Bush who negotiated multiple free-trade agreements with Central America, Colombia, Chile, Australia, Morocco and a few other countries. George W. Bush passed the free-trade baton to Barack Obama who has signed free-trade agreements with South Korea and Peru and was given “Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority” by the Republican Congress last summer to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade zone which is NAFTA on steroids.
Political Correctness – The dry rot of political correctness has been spreading like a cancer through American culture since the 1980s. It is hard to say now whether the true believer SJW is worse than the cuckservative furiously engaged in virtue signaling on Twitter. They are two sides of the same coin and decades of Republican electoral victories have done nothing to stem the problem. Indeed, the Republicans used their electoral power in the South to join the cultural cleansing crusade to eradicate monuments and symbols of the Confederacy. If anything is true, “mainstream conservatives” are the primary bulwark sustaining the system by shouting down all opposition to it as “racist.”
American Empire – Whether it is invading Grenada or Panama, Iraq twice, bombing Serbia, invading Afghanistan, or wrecking Libya, both parties are firmly committed as ever to policing the world and maintaining and expanding the existing liberal international order. It is a formula for endless wars which carries ever greater risk as America increasingly lacks the economic capacity to win protracted wars. What have we accomplished in Afghanistan after 15 years of being there?
Campaign Finance – Evangelical Christians were suckered into voting for George W. Bush out of the false belief that a Republican majority on the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade and reverse their losses in the culture wars. Instead, the Republican-controlled Supreme Court gave us Citizens United and the McCutcheon decision which opened the floodgates for billionaires to debauch elections. Oh, and it was the same Republican majority of that gave us gay marriage in the Obergefell decision.
Taxes and Deregulation – Republicans and Democrats argue over taxes and deregulation, but what is striking is that the top marginal income tax rate has declined from 70 percent to 35 percent under George W. Bush before climbing back up to 39.6 percent. The corporate income tax rate has been cut in half since the 1950s. Generally speaking, we have spent the last forty years moving toward a world of lower taxes and low tariffs.
The same is true of deregulation in transportation, telecommunications, energy and finance. Since the 1970s, entire industries have been deregulated, but the greatest change of all was the deregulation of the financial sector and banking system, which was a joint project of Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress in the 1990s. The White middle class and White working class now dumps its life savings into the stock market. Finance has eclipsed manufacturing in its share of all domestic corporate profits.
The effect of all of the above has been the rapid cultural and economic decline of the White majority which has loss faith in all national institutions. Trillions of dollars squandered on quixotic foreign wars were never invested in the productive economy. Countless thousands of factories have closed down and millions of jobs have been sent overseas. Millions of legal and illegal immigrants have been brought into the country to compete with a workforce that now has to compete with wage earners in places like Bangladesh and Vietnam. Unions have crumbled under the pressure as major industries have declined due to foreign competition. The middle class has shrunk as the wealthy now control a greater share of our national wealth than at any point since the eve of the Great Depression.
If this litany of woes wasn’t bad enough, college tuition and healthcare are increasingly unaffordable for millions of White Americans. The Democratic Party obsesses over women with penises. The Republican Party wants to start World War III with Russia over Syria. The only plan it has to improve the economy is the same prescription of Reaganomics – further tax cuts, deregulation, union busting, and free-trade agreements – that it has pushed for the last thirty years as wages have stagnated, women have gone into the workforce to make ends meet, and average household debt has skyrocketed.
Can someone please start a second party? There is plenty of room for a Ross Perot in 2016.