Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Monday, February 29, 2016

A REPLY TO ALEX CAMPBELL

Alex Campbell says, " I have heard you mention a few times that if Trump wins the nomination, he will destroy the GOP. I was hoping that you could say more about what exactly you mean by this and why you think it."  Let me try to respond.

Both the Democratic and Republican Parties rely for electoral support on what is referred to as their "base," which is to say a sizeable group of voters who can be counted on, in good times and bad, to vote for the party.   Since only between 54% and 62% of eligible voters have actually gone to the polls in the past four cycles, it is obvious that "turning out your base" is a key to winning a presidential election.  A solid margin of victory in a presidential campaign is perhaps three to five percent of the total vote, so there is more to be gained by increasing the share of  your base that votes than in persuading so-called "independent" voters to switch from one party to the other.

For half a century now, those who run the Republican Party have been successful in getting a base of low and middle income voters to support policies that benefit the rich rather than themselves by appealing to racial prejudice, religious anxiety, resentment at class snobbery, and jingoist passions.  As Thomas Frank put it brilliantly in his 2004 book What's The Matter With Kansas?, the Republicans get the peasants to charge the castle with pitchforks, shouting as they charge "We are mad as hell, and demand that you cut taxes on the rich!"

The Republicans never deliver what they promise on social issues, but fears about same-sex marriage, abortion, and the "War on Christmas" keep the base riled up and in line.

This seems to be the year in which that con job finally fails.  Trump has hi-jacked the Party while making it clear that he cannot be counted on to support international capitalism and the financial classes [it is very significant that Trump is in construction, which is typically local, not international.] 

The merger of the interests of the rich and the anxieties of the lower middle class has never been natural or stable, and if Trump does in fact win the nomination, it is difficult to see how that merger will be reestablished after he loses the general election.  It is noteworthy that the super-rich individuals who have poured hundreds of millions into the Republican Primary Campaign have thus far had virtually no return on their investment.


Something like this is what I had in mind.

5 comments:

s. wallerstein said...

It's interesting that the Economist magazine, which I always take to be the voice of international finance capital, is very frightened of Trump. I'm sure that they prefer Hillary. (They're not wild about Rubio either).

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21693579-front-runner-unfit-lead-great-political-party-let-alone-america-time-fire-trump

Henry said...

I see three reasons to hope that Trump gets the Republican nomination: (1) he is more likely than Cruz or Rubio to lose to Clinton or Sanders, (2) he is more likely to destroy the Republican Party, and (3) he is erratic. Cruz’s and Rubio’s policies are as extreme as Trump’s, but, whereas Cruz and Rubio are consistently evil, Trump’s erraticism leaves open the possibility that he will do less harm. For example, Trump said, with respect to repealing Obamacare, that he would not allow people to die in the streets, and Cruz condemned him for that.

Frank Wilhoit said...

Hypothesis #1: the non-voters are ~~equally split between right and left.
Hypothesis #2: the non-voters on the right have not been voting since 1980 (or ever in their lives) because nothing sufficiently sadistic was on offer.
Hypothesis #3: irrespective of anything that happens or is said before the convention, every Republican (no exceptions, not a single one) will support the Party's nominee after the convention.
Hypothesis #4: the non-voters on the left have not been voting because they see politics as the problem, not (even potentially) the solution.
Hypothesis #5: everything that increases the irrationality, violence, and sadism of the political arena will increase Republican turnout and decrease Democratic turnout by a symmetrical amount.
Hypothesis #6: the Republican nominee will be either Trump or someone who has beaten Trump at his own game.
Hypothesis #7: the Republican nominee will win 74% +/- 4% of the popular vote and exactly 535 electoral votes.

There are dependencies among these hypotheses, but I shirk the effort to recast them as a series of syllogisms.


Alex Campbell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex Campbell said...

Thanks Robert, that's helpful. I hope you're right.

Alex Campbell