Over the past 40 years the United States has come full circle from the malaise that beset Jimmy Carter to the present situation around Barack Obama, who appears to be trying to emulate South Africa. Frustrated Americans are reacting with their vote. While a concerned world watches, Donald Trump is confusing all the talking heads, turning polls upside down and terrifying Establishment politicians. However, if they would look at the world through different eyes, they would realize he has turned the election from a Left vs Right struggle into a struggle between Opportunity and Entitlement.
The international importance of US Internal Politics
I have been a keen student of the United States for some 40 years. The reasons are simple. Firstly, when the United States gets an economic “cold”, the world gets economic “pneumonia”. Secondly, less powerful countries “sail in the wake” of the United States. They may be completely capsized by even slight course changes on the part of the US.
In my own case, I have studied the US political chessboard to determine the consequences for the country of my birth, South Africa. US Foreign Policy effectively destroyed that country while it was not even a bump in the road to Americans. Logically, they do not have to care, until, of course, those consequences come flying through the air in the form of four fuel laden hijacked airliners in a clear blue September sky. But, the events of 9/11 may be traced back to profoundly flawed US Foreign Policy decisions by the Democratic Party dominated Congress in 1975. It may all may be read in the book AmaBhulu. Jerry Ford warned America at the time and Congress did not listen, and South Africa is now in the Sino-Russian-Iranian camp.
Forty years of US Foreign Policy
Over the forty years of my watch, I have seen the United States internationally emasculate itself in the wake of the Vietnam War. As a result, the Communist Revolution expanded tremendously. It led to me being 50 feet above trees on the Angola-Namibia border in an aircraft avoiding Soviet-made surface-to-air missiles. After all, short-sighted Congressional decisions have consequences.
I have seen grown American men cry in dismay at the state of their country in 1979 under Jimmy Carter. I have seen their pride and hope restored under Ronald Reagan. I have watched Ronald Reagan win the Cold War and bring down the Berlin Wall. I have watched George Bush senior correctly list a Communist dominated organization as a Terrorist Group, only to have those terrorists foisted as a government on decent South Africans on the watch of Bill Clinton. I have seen George Bush Junior go to war in Iraq as part of the Neo-Conservative agenda, and I have seen Barack Obama yet again emasculate the United States on the world stage.
The US has come full circle and is again in the lamentable state it was under Jimmy Carter around the time of the Iran Hostage Crisis and the failed Mission in the Desert to rescue the hostages (photo above). Those Americans who love and build their country feel that both their country and their pride have been trashed, along with their fortunes, their jobs and their children’s futures. They are more angry than I have ever seen them in my life. Only those who steal from the American Dream seem happy. Jimmy Carter has been consigned to the Twilight Zone of American public life since departing office. However, I have actually had Democrats tell me, “Obama is the best thing that ever happened to Carter“. At the same time, I have Republican friends who now detest their party for being utterly ineffectual and for “selling them out”.
The Political State of the Nation
Against this background, let us look at the United States political arena as the Republican and Democratic Party elders do: as the chessboard of Figure 1 below with just two blocks in a one-dimensional row next to each other. Ever since the departure of Ronald Reagan, the country has divided itself between camps on the “Left” and “Right”. In the United States, the term “Left” typically refers to people who are both Socially and Economically liberal, combining thereby Moral issues, Religious issues, Gender Rights, Green Issues and regular Economic Socialism.
Figure 1 collects some topical US political issues together on this map. This grouping of issues does not necessarily hold in other countries and it certainly polarizes almost every issue in the US. Few other places would list Libertarianism under “The Right”. So, for example, the “Right” is seen as automatically “Hawkish” and the “left” as “Dovish”, yet Democrats (the nominal custodians of the “Left”) have taken the US into WWI, WWII, and the wars in Korea, Vietnam and Kosovo. Since the Civil War, vastly larger numbers of men have died fighting wars under Democratic presidents than under Republican Commanders-in-Chief. This Left-Right split has rendered political debate in the United States completely useless. Every individual or media group is forced into one of the two blocks and one side is obliged not to believe a word the other says and they belch bile at each other across the divide.
With the advent of President Obama the country was shoved violently and uncomfortably to the “Left”. The first high level reaction reaction came in 2010 in the form of the Tea Party faction of the Republicans on the “Right”. This group is as rigid in their opposition to Tax & Spend as Obama is in his insistence on expanding social benefits during the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Over the past seven years, President Obama has exacerbated the divide of Figure 1 but has excited Kenyans (above). His non-consultative management style is well-known to people from Africa, such as this present author. It has rendered the US government dysfunctional. It has obviated Congress and has thereby disenfanchised America. The ordinary man in the street perceives this as a “Useless Congress”. However, Obama has made it so. He now rules over his “kingdom” by decree via so-called Executive Actions, a fancy name for “Ignore the voting public” when the voters gave the Congress to the Republicans.
To this author, the United States of 2016 behaves more like an African “basket case” by the day. One would swear it is trying to turn itself into South Africa, a rapidly failing state Obama admires and which thinking people of all races are trying to escape. It ought not to surprise Americans, though. After all, a member of the Obama Administration is the ghost writer of Nelson Mandela’s “autobiography”. Perhaps Americans should study South Africa to understand the sheer disaster toward which they are at present headed. No wonder those hard-pressed Americans who care about their family, their country and its position in the world are insisting on dramatic change in Washington. And this brings us to the heart of the matter and the title of this piece.
Enter Donald Trump
The remaining US presidential candidates prove remarkably difficult to place on the one-dimensional map(See Figure 2). It produces a litany of inconsistencies around Trump and Sanders.
Democrats will have folks believe Trump is a “far right” testosteronic rabble rouser. Ted Cruz will have you believe that Trump is a “further left than” Hillary Clinton. The Republican Establishment will have you believe that he is so politically toxic that he is not even legitimately on the map. CNN talking heads will tell us “Sanders is to the Right of Clinton on Gun Control“. I suggest the Political Establishment and its Media are unable to see the very map they are functioning on. The confusion should be a clue to all of them that the one-dimensional map is inadequate to the job.
Trump is clearly confounding all the Party apparatchiks, commentators, and CNN talking heads. However, he is not confounding the client, the ordinary working American on the ground. Those much-tried folks are flocking to Trump’s flag in masses and droves. The last die-hard “Collective Bargaining” Unionists and Millennials with their sense of entitlement are flocking to Bernie Sanders. However, it is near impossible to depict these developments on the simple one-dimensional map.
The American Dream vs the American Myth
Donald Trump’s advent has made it clear that the US Political Arena is now a distinct two-dimensional map. The time has come to restore the natural vertical axis of the map of Figure 1 and to stop lumping together disparate views behind either “Left” or “Right”. The vertical axis has Capitalism and Opportunity increasing upward and Socialism and Entitlement increasing downward, as in Figure 3, which is an adapted variant of the Nolan Chart. We show a simple mapping of the candidates, and describe it in more detail further below.
Trump’s presence has in effect redefined the election as a struggle between the top and bottom on this new map, instead of between the American Liberals and Conservatives. I would submit that those Americans positioned in the top half of the map are mostly people with a love of country who either have a job, or have lost a job and who may have a family and a house with a mortgage. Some 3.2 Million of those mortgages are still “under water”. This includes some of my own American Democrat friends. They are generally having a hard time making headway in the current economic climate. However, they accept that one works to get ahead in life and they do not expect handouts. They believe in the American Dream and have pride in America and its position in the world. They feel pained by America’s diminished international status and want it restored.
Where the “Left” miscalculates, is in assuming that women do not feel the plunge in American status worldwide. Married women in particular certainly see what is happening to their children and their country and do not like it one little bit. This position is also more ethnically blind than the talking heads are prepared to concede. This region of the map also includes Millennials who have discovered their latest iPhone does not have an App for “Give me a Job” and are trying do something about it, rather than protest as “backpacks with legs”.
The desire of people above the line is for Opportunity and restoration of the status of their country, independent of what they think of Gender Rights, Abortion, Religion, or Global Warming. They may well tell voters below the line “When last did a poor guy give you a job?” and many see Trump as the living embodiment of Success via Opportunity. They tend to be Patriotic in their views. In summary, they believe in the American Dream.
The folks below the horizontal line believe they will never have a proper stab at the American Dream. Some believe themselves inherently disavantaged in some way or another, possibly on the basis of skin colour or ethnicity. Others among them are Millennials, who consider themselves hard done by. It certainly is true that loan institutions and Universities have got rich off their student loans. These young adults are burdened with staggering debt. One has to have sympathy. Many have dropped out of school and are stuck with the debt without a job. It is worth noting that Millennials have a calibration that consists of the Iraq War, the Mortgage Meltdown and the 2008 election of Obama. They learnt soon after that their immediate futures had been destroyed by Wall Street greed and they now blame rampant Capitalism, having never experienced normal working balanced Capitalism. They never knew the U.S.S.R and never saw the implosion of Communism. They “got their brains” after the Cold War.
The desire of people below the line is for Rights or Entitlement, whether it be citizenship, benefits, handouts, debt relief, or jobs “worthy of their expensive univesity degree“. They believe the American Dream is a Myth of History and prefer to fight or strike for what they can get from the “System”, which they believe rigged against them. Many Millennials in particular tend to be Internationalist, Global and “University Socialist” in their views.
Mapping the Candidates
As shown in Figure 4 below, Trump has placed himself squarely across the top two blocks of this map and has very openly stated his America First principles and his belief in Opportunity. He is also predicting that he can pull clients (voters) from below the horizontal line. When he gets questions of Liberal versus Conservative nature, he tends to fumble them. That is simply because it is not that important to him. He thinks along the vertical axis of the map, seeing people as either wanting opportunity and pride in their country or wanting handouts. I am not sure he could care less whether they are “Bible thumping” Conservatives or “Raving” Liberals. This is why one hears Ted Cruz calling him “Liberal” and Clinton calling him “Far Right”. One can see his appeal across the top from the tens of thousands of Democratic Party Primary voters who have re-registered as Republicans. And that support is often coming from gritty “Union Democrat” neighbourhoods where jobs have disappeared, rendering unions impotent, if not completely irrelevant.
Clinton, as a Party Establishment creature, is pitching herself further to the Left than she really is, hoping to tack back to the middle in the Fall. Her problem is that she is not really associated with the word “Opportunity”. She certainly spends more time talking about entitlements than about economic actions. She has zero business or job-creation experience, and she is responsible for some of the worst Foreign Policy disasters in US history. She has played a key role in the diminished position of the US on the international stage. Trump is certain to make her life hell over the terrible events at Benghazi. Patriotic Americans are unlikely to forgive her for that fatal debacle and the manipulation of the truth thereafter.
Kasich sits in a limited zone on the horizontal line to the immediate right of the vertical, hoping the front-runners will somehow “crash and burn”. Cruz’s very Conservative agenda confines him to the far right of the top block. He has painted himself completely into a corner on the map.
Bernie Sanders, rather than Hillary Clinton, is the clear counter to Donald Trump. While he has positions across the width of the map, he gets almost no traction with Black voters. Ironically, American Blacks mostly associate with the Establishment Clintons. By contrast, Sanders actually commands the “Trendy Lefty” segment, including Socialist oriented Millennials. Little can be more ironic than a 74-year old devout Cold War Socialist (1) from Vermont of all places and (2) leading a horde of iPhone wielding under-25s. He is the figurehead for “The 99%” and “Occupy Wall Street”.
The consequence of all this is that Trump has mapped himself onto a much larger portion of the present US Political Arena than most understand. This is why one sees the “Evangelicals” vote for him in masses and why thousands of Democrats above the horizontal line are re-registering as Republicans.
Some Black commentators refer to Trump’s base as “Angry White Men” and gleefully point out that there are not enough of them. So let us look at the numbers. According to the US Census Bureau there are 215 million voters in the US. 26 million of all races are aged between 18 and 24, these being Millennials. Of voters aged above 24 years, 136.5 million are whites, 22.5 million are Blacks, and 18 million are Hispanics. The bureau reports that the 2012 presidential election saw only 65% of Whites register to vote and only 56.5% actually voted. I expect “Angry White Men” to be back with a vengeance and hell bent on taking back their country. With no Black candidate remaining in the race, the turnout of that group will be significantly lower than the roughly 70% of the Obama years.
The grouping above the line is pointedly not exclusively White. It also includes Blacks, Hispanics and Asians who are actually TRYING to make the American Dream work, as opposed to rioting in the streets in an attempt to win an entitlement. All that stands between Trump and the most powerful office in the world, is his own mouth, and of course, any dirty play by the Establishment of the Republican Party. Should the Party Elders try that, I hereby promise them they will be responsible for the demise of the Republican Party.
I trust Americans will elect a president that will make the leading country of the Free World strong again. I have lost the country of my birth to the kind of forces that lurk in the Obama Administration. I have seen it thereby turned into a hell hole and dangerous laughing stock. I cannot stomach the destruction of Western Civilization one inch further.
My advice to Hillary Clinton? Dissociate yourself from Barack Obama as fast and as far as you can. Ordinary adult American men are mad as hell at what Barack Obama has done with their country, there are awfully many of them, and they talk to their wives.
— Harry Booyens