Democrats, Republicans splintered into factions
by RUSS STEWART
Who would have thought it? Eight years of George Bush begat Barack Obama — remember "change we need"? — and eight years of Barack Obama has begat — what?
Voters in 2016 are even surlier, angrier, more disconsolate and more disenchanted with the U.S. political system than they were in 2008.
The choices are stark: It’s Clinton Inc. versus Trump Inc. versus Bloomberg Inc. versus none of the above. The first three will each spend a billion dollars or more to win the presidency, but the last, if the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses are any clue, is closing fast. Donald Trump lost, and Hillary Clinton barely won.
It is a political axiom that liberalism grows ever more liberal while conservatism grows ever less conservative. The current campaign has unleashed a new phenomenon: Liberals are embracing "democratic socialism" and moving leftward, while conservatives are flocking to an anti-multicultural mindset and moving rightward. Both agree on the same premise: The American economic and political system is flawed, and it’s getting worse.
Throughout history, in America as elsewhere, politics has always been a struggle between the "haves" and the "have nots," with government being the engine for either wealth redistribution or wealth creation and preservation. What has differentiated the American congressional/executive system from the European parliamentary system has been two enduring political parties, not a multiplicity of parties. One party is center left and wants expanded government, while the other party is center right and wants limited government . . . or at least slower expansion.
This year the center is collapsing, and the Democrats are becoming the left-left party and the Republicans are becoming the right-right party. The Democrats abhor Wall Street, billionaires, big banks, the energy industry, militarism, war, political incorrectness and everyone who doesn’t think the role of government is to provide everything for free. They think that every Republican is a plutocrat. The Republicans despise the welfare state, the $17 trillion national debt and especially multiculturalism, which means open borders, secularism and the demise of the "American Dream." Now, instead of having to work for wealth, the government takes it away from the workers and gives it to non-workers.
To be sure, there are factions within both parties, ranging from the center to the fringe. With the exceptions of 1964 and 1972, when fringe candidates Barry Goldwater and George McGovern were nominated for president and lost decisively, the parties have united behind their center-left and center-right candidates, who are more center than fringe.
This year unification is going to be difficult for both parties. Here’s a look at the factions.
Democrats: There are four distinct power bases, the Clintonites, the minorities, the Obama/Pelosi liberals and Bernie Sanders’ "democratic socialists."
Clintonites. Call them the status quo/quid pro quo faction. They don’t want to reform the system, they want to game the system, and they’re very good at it. They are laissez faire opportunists. They don’t want to tax the rich, they want to get money from the rich. Those who give are those who get, and while the givers may not get any tangible personal, corporate or special interest benefit, they get something even better: They don’t get hurt economically, or they get access. Every dollar donated is well spent.
Remember the good old days of Bill Clinton and the Lincoln bedroom? Those who donated got bed and breakfast in the White House. Hillary Clinton is on track to raise $1 billion for her presidential bid, and the givers are not "democratic socialists," Walmart workers or unemployed college graduates with student loan debt. Her donors are Democratic plutocrats, millionaires who expect dividends from Clinton Inc.
Clinton Inc. expected the 2016 election to be about symbolism, not substance. The "Obama Nation" was supposed to morph into the "Clinton Nation." Clinton, in an early debate, was asked how she would be different from Obama. She smiled and said, "Look at me." There was a presumption of inevitability. The black president was supposed to be succeeded by a female president. Issues were not thought important, nor was the Obama Administration’s record. They were wrong. The Clintons are all about power: Get it, keep it, and use it to keep it. Democratic voters are getting wise to the scam.
Democratic socialists. Socialism is a political theory wherein the means of production and distribution are owned and controlled not by private individuals but by "society," or government. As defined by Webster’s Dictionary, under socialism, "all members of society share in the work and the products." Not in Bernie Sanders’ Utopia. Nobody has to work, but the billionaires have to share their work product and government will do the collecting and distributing.
In a society where wealth is flaunted and idolized, it is understandable that the "have nots" are aggrieved. Capitalism has become evil and exploitative.
Minorities. They want more money, all of the time, even for failed programs. Under the theory of non-retrogression, once an African American occupies an office, it’s supposed to stay black forever. The White House is exempt. Blacks, and Hispanics to a lesser extent, are not especially enamored with Clinton, and the have no idea what Sanders is talking about. They just want to maintain the status quo, which means more money for more of the same. They’re with Clinton.
Reformers. Billionaire former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, once a Republican, is 2016’s "Nanny Party" candidate. He thinks government should be everybody’s housemate: no tobacco, no fatty foods, no soft-drink sugars, no guns, no wasteful spending, just more taxes. In a Bloomberg America, everybody will be a model citizen and do what government tells them.
Bloomberg has the wealth to self-finance an independent run for president. If he runs, he will divide the non-Republican base.
Among Republicans, there are five factions:
Establishment/business. It is evident that Jeb Bush is going nowhere. Marco Rubio is emerging as the insiders’ choice. It’s "Anybody But Trump" time, and the Florida senator is the least objectionable and most electable Republican. Either Chris Christie or John Kasich is headed for the vice president slot.
Tea Party. They’re so yesterday. Fiscal responsibility in Washington? In your dreams. We’re paying $1 trillion in interest on the $17 trillion national debt. Nobody cares. Ted Cruz has this faction.
Libertarians. How about no wars, no taxes and no regulations? Get government out of the bedroom and the wallet. Not a chance. Rand Paul is gone and forgotten. Terrorism means a big military is getting bigger.
Social conservatives. Traditionalism is so passe. In our society, there’s always a battle for rights — civil rights, women’s rights, abortion rights, gay rights, disabled rights, homeless rights, trans-gender and trans-sexual rights. The clock will not be rolled back.
The Angry Faction, They adore Trump and they’re quite numerous, but they are non-political. Trump needs to get them to the polls in the Republican primaries.
So where is America going? A look at Europe’s political, fiscal and societal chaos is illustrative, with two concepts intertwined. They are multiculturalism and sovereignism. Where Europe is today, America will be in 10 to 15 years.
For decades, Europe’s center-left governments encouraged immigration. Birth rates among the native-born had plummeted and the economy needed somebody to perform the menial labor. So Turks flooded into Germany and the Scandinavian countries, and immigrants from Algeria, Libya and Morocco flooded into France and Italy, with a goodly number of both groups migrating to England and Ireland. Under the European Union, there are no borders, and anybody can go anywhere.
However, unlike prior waves of immigrants, they didn’t assimilate. They were Muslims. Their religion is their culture, and that culture prevents assimilation.
France: Paris is a city under siege. The wealthy French live in the city, while the Muslims live in the suburbs, where crime and joblessness are epidemic, and the immigrants’ birth rate is stupendous. In 30 years, native white Europeans will be in the minority.
Now there is a pushback, but it’s way too late. It’s called sovereignism, which essentially means law and order, no immigration, and national preferences. In France, Marie le Pen’s National Front party’s theme is "France for the French," and the recent Paris terrorist attacks have been politically advantageous. The country’s center-right party, "Les Republicains," a successor to the old Gaullist Party, has shattered, with the hard-core conservatives defecting to le Pen’s party.
France’s leftward lunge dates back almost 35 years. In 1980 the United States elected Ronald Reagan, who ushered in a decade of conservatism. In 1981 France elected Francois Mitterand, a socialist who ushered in decades of nationalization of industry, confiscatory taxation and a generous welfare state. Everybody in France gets a paid month-long vacation in August, when the country basically shuts down.
Mitterand pioneered the concept of democratic socialism. He clearly understood that when the government gives a "free" benefit to a person, that person is going to vote to keep that government in power. The Obama Administration learned that lesson well. Can you say Francois Obama? Or Bernie Mitterand?
France is America’s template. We will be what they are. The Gaullists are characterized as "benevolent social conservatives." That means that they will keep the welfare state in place and not grow it. Unpopular President Francois Hollande is a socialist who is anti-NATO and anti-military and who wants to expand the welfare state. There are a number of fringe parties. In 2017, 2012 loser Nicolas Sarkozy will run again. Can socialism be undone?
Send e-mail to russ@russstewart. com or visit his Web site at www. russstewart.com.