This is the time of year when writers are making their predictions. The Archdruid Report foresees the election of Donald Trump as president. Gail Tverberg has a thoughtful post about oil. The usually delightful, politically incorrect, and trenchant James Howard Kunstler is worth quoting at length:
Given where we are in human history — the moment of techno-industrial over-reach — this crackup will not be easy to recover from; not like, say, the rapid recoveries of Japan and Germany after the brutal fiasco of World War Two. Things have gone too far in too many ways. The coming crackup will re-set the terms of civilized life to levels largely pre-techno-industrial. How far backward remains to be seen.
Those terms might be somewhat negotiable if we could accept the reality of this re-set and prepare for it. But, alas, most of the people capable of thought these days prefer wishful techno-narcissistic woolgathering to a reality-based assessment of where things stand — passively awaiting technological rescue remedies (“they” will “come up with something”) that will enable all the current rackets to continue. Thus, electric cars will allow suburban sprawl to function as the preferred everyday environment; molecular medicine will eliminate the role of death in human affairs; as-yet-undiscovered energy modalities will keep all the familiar comforts and conveniences running; and financial legerdemain will marshal the capital to make it all happen.
Oh, by the way, here’s a second element of the story to stay alert to: that most of the activities on-going in the USA today have taken on the qualities of rackets, that is, dishonest schemes for money-grubbing. This is most vividly and nauseatingly on display lately in the fields of medicine and education — two realms of action that formerly embodied in their basic operating systems the most sacred virtues developed in the fairly short history of civilized human endeavor: duty, diligence, etc.
I don't make predictions in my Seattle Times column. "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future" as Yogi Berra said. Instead, I have laid down markers, written about the perilous prospects ahead for workers, and the chance of a recession.
Illusions abound, not least in the political realm. The chaos in the Republican presidential contest is commonly narrated as trouble with an insurgency, especially led by Trump, against "the establishment."
The trouble is, a real Republican establishment doesn't exist. It died out with George H.W. Bush, ending a process that began with the Goldwaterites takeover in 1964. Barack Obama is the closest thing we have to a "establishment Republican," except for his party affiliation and skin color. Today's "establishment" came to power with the Gingrich revolution in 1994. The revolution always eats its children.
On the "left" — quotations necessary because the center has shifted so far to the right — is the illusion that Bernie Sanders has a chance at winning the presidency. And, if he did, that he could implement any of his programs, many of which I agree with. But doing this would require commanding majorities in the Congress. As Mr. Obama's tenure has shown, the presidency is only one branch of one segment of our republic's federal-style government.
We have an interesting argument going here at Rogue. Our Front Page Editor, a man with extensive experience in government and foreign policy, will not under any circumstances vote for the "Clintoons," as he calls Hillary and Bill and his dodgy foundation. To him, they are responsible for many of our woes and a President Hillary Clinton would be more of the grifting neoliberal same.
In his reasoning, a Democratic defeat in 2016 would bring Republicans to total power and disaster, paving the way for a real progressive revolution in 2020.
This is not to be lightly dismissed. Hillary is no enemy of the oligarchs or the Military Industrial Complex. Much of the hatred of Obama would easily be transferred to her in the White House, continuing the gains by the GOP at the state and congressional level against a hapless and perhaps dying Democratic Party.
But to me, this is madness. Whatever Hillary's flaws, she would be a bulwark against repealing the New Deal, Great Society, and Enlightenment. She would control appointments to the judiciary. Progressive revolution? Despite #BlackLivesMatter and other effervescences in the liberal echo chamber, where are our armies, as Soleri has asked? They can't compare to those of the right. A Republican sweep in 2016 would only cement the "permanent majority" for which Karl Rove lusted and worked.
As an example, I point to the latest New York Times story about the Koch brothers. In reporting on the new book by Jane Mayer, Dark Money, it buries the lede beneath the sensational but not surprising assertion that the patriarch built an oil refinery for Hitler.
The important news is how the book details the oligarchs who have spent billions building the vast right-wing infrastructure:
The Kochs, the Scaifes, the Bradleys and the DeVos family of Michigan “were among a small, rarefied group of hugely wealthy, archconservative families that for decades poured money, often with little public disclosure, into influencing how the Americans thought and voted,” the book says.
Many of the families owned businesses that clashed with environmental or workplace regulators, come under federal or state investigation, or waged battles over their tax bills with the Internal Revenue Service, Ms. Mayer reports. The Kochs’ vast political network, a major force in Republican politics today, was “originally designed as a means of off-loading the costs of the Koch Industries environmental and regulatory fights onto others” by persuading other rich business owners to contribute to Koch-controlled political groups...
This is what we're up against. As for Trump, throw in an economic downturn, a campaign framed exclusively about fear for Der Homeland, white anger, and the astonishing and growing number of Americans who don't read newspapers, don't know history, can't think critically, and are robots of talk radio and Fox "News"...anything is possible. Including a vote for fascism and national suicide.