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The future of the USA

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, December 19th, 2017 - 78 comments
Categories: Donald Trump, International, us politics - Tags:

Why does this era of U.S. politics feel so different to any other in our lifetime? The answer is that President Trump’s leadership and policy actions are revolutionising both their public realm into something smaller, weaker, and harder, and also giving themselves over to the corporations and to their military, at a speed and scale we haven’t experienced before.

Let’s see where this heads them.

Alabama, the Senate, and Congress

The Alabama Senate race has been a useful pause to the politics of the U.S.A. For a moment it seemed as if feminism itself was contesting that Senate race, and through a great orchestration of media stories and minor triumphs, feminism won the battle even though the great electoral feminist war for the Presidency itself had been lost. Hillary was right all along – but that’s not enough.

It’s not hard to remind ourselves in this temporary breathing space that the Alabama race was really close. It is a reasonable bet that social conservatives and white blue-collar supporters in rural areas will continue to vote on the basis of nationalist and religious sentiment and antipathy toward secular coastal elites, rather than for their own financial interests.

A useful pause. A lull in a war for the very worst of plutocratic rule, coded racism, bullying, wealth-transfers to the 1%, corruption to the highest levels, political domination, and of accelerated decline in the United States itself. While feminism continues to win great battles, only feminism is winning. Not income. Not social division or social mobility. Not race or ethnicity or immigration. Not sound governance. Not media old and new. Not peace. Not nature. Not native peoples. Not disability. Not poverty. Not violence. Not any other liberative contest. They are all being lost.

What the electorate had been expecting was a revival in the interests of blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought Trump to power.  Nope. The Republican Party will continue to put in extreme candidates, who will continue to rule the Senate, Congress, White House and Supreme Court for many years to come.

With those majorities and a stacked Court, the President will never be impeached, will not walk from office, and will continue his current executive and policy direction for four more years. This is their political future until 2025 and probably beyond.

Foreign Influence

The U.S. Secretary of State and the President used to be the most effective diplomats in the world. Under President Reagan, the Cold War and all its smaller wars pretty much ended. Under Obama, deals were brokered with old enemies like Cuba and Iran, and boots-on-the-ground military were massively decreasing. Previously fully on board with climate change deals, now they are the only major country in the world outside it. They are burning.

The future of the U.S.A’s international influence is also decreasing because it is burning itself out in the Middle East like an underground coal seam fire. From World War Two until 1980, there were zero U.S. military deaths in the Middle East. Since 1990, almost all U.S. military deaths have been in the Middle East. The U.S. has spent trillions of dollars in multiple interventions across countries from Ethiopia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Most of their effects have been profoundly retrograde. Even if they lessen, there is no sign that these interventions will stop. There may at some point be a great civic accounting for it all, but at the moment the American people are pretty much asleep to it all. This is their future in foreign affairs.


Trump and the Republicans’ plan to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) would have left 24 million Americans – mostly poor or middle class, many of whom voted for him – without health care. His deregulatory policies are blatantly biased against workers and unions. And the Republican tax-reform plan that he has endorsed would overwhelmingly favor multinational corporations and the top 1% of households, many of which stand to benefit especially from the repeal of the estate tax.

The new tax plan about to be passed will take away the funding of plans for about 13 million uninsured Americans. Trump will continue to gut the Obamacare provisions through executive actions well within his remit in the next year and the full three years. There is no replacement plan.


Trump has abandoned his base in the area of trade, where he has offered rhetoric but not concrete action. Yes, he scrapped the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but Hillary Clinton would have done the same. He has mused about abandoning the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA), but that may be just a negotiating tactic. He has threatened to impose a 50% tariff on goods from China, Mexico, and other US trade partners, but no such measures have materialized. And proposals for a border adjustment tax have been all but forgotten.

Trump’s bullying tweets against US firms that move production offshore or undertake tax inversions have been no more than cheap talk, and business leaders know it. Manufacturers who fooled Trump into thinking they would keep production in the U.S have continued to transfer  operations quietly to Mexico, China, and elsewhere. Moreover, international provisions in the pending tax legislation will give US multinationals an even greater incentive to invest, hire, and produce abroad, while using transfer pricing and other schemes to salt away profits in low-tax jurisdictions.


Tax will be a massive legacy for this President this week – a major boost to the GOP to sustain their power at all levels of government and of law.

President Trump’s permanent cuts to the maximum corporate tax rate fall from 35% to 21%. Most corporations don’t pay more than 15% because they have excellent tax planners and tax lawyers. U.S.-based corporations will no longer have to pay tax on profits earned in other countries – this will be a real help to the big tech companies and big pharmaceutical companies. The seven personal income tax brackets stay, but all of their rates are lowered. It repeals the Obamacare tax for the uninsured, which will mean about 13 million Americans are without healthcare again. It allows oil drilling in the Arctic again.

The net effect is that it is estimated to add about US$1.5 trillion to the national debt, increase GDP about .5% per year, strip healthcare, massively assist the top 1% of earners and multinational corporations at the expense of most Americans, and overall weaken the federal government.

Nevertheless, Trump and the Republicans seem willing to risk it. By pushing the middle-class tax hikes to a later date, they have designed their plan to get them through the 2018 midterm elections and the 2020 general election. Between now and the midterms, they can sell cutting taxes on most households. And they can expect to see the economic-stimulus effects of tax cuts peak in 2019, just before the next presidential election – and long before the bill comes due.

Moreover, the final legislation will likely lower the federal deduction for mortgage interest and eliminate deductibility for state and local taxes. This will hit households in Democratic-leaning states such as New York, New Jersey, and California much harder than households in Republican-leaning states.


Another part of the Republican strategy (known as “starve the beast”) will be to use the higher deficits from tax cuts to argue for cuts in so-called entitlement spending, such as Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and Social Security. It’s a risky proposition, given that elderly, middle-class, and low-income Americans rely heavily on these programs and that is the Fox News and Trump supporter base. Yes, the working and non-working poor who receive welfare payments or food stamps include minorities who tend to vote for Democrats. But millions of the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who voted for Trump also rely on these and similar programs.

With the global economy expanding, Trump hopes that tax cuts and deregulation will spur enough growth and create enough jobs that he will have something to brag about. A potential growth rate of 2% won’t necessarily do much to help his blue-collar base, but could push the stock market up to its highest point ever.  It’s a bet that only the rich like Trump and his family will win. In the near and far future, everyone else will lose.


Left and right are used to predicting the accelerated decline of America,  but now we see it before our eyes and in our lifetimes. Its business as usual economy based on sharemarket performance and corporate profits will continue to do great. Its people will decline. Its social and hard infrastructure will decline. Its entire international standing and engagement will retreat fast. Its long term debt will massively increase and corrode the long term ability of the public sector to restabilise and expand. President Trump has done this inside one year.

None of this gives me any joy. There is no cosmic karma to be had here. There is no sign that the rest of the world appreciates that which the U.S. has done incredibly well. There is now only accelerated loss. We are all weaker and damaged by it.

78 comments on “The future of the USA ”

  1. garibaldi 1

    “That which America has done incredibly well”. That leaves you wide open to ridicule.
    The “goodness” of the USA was never what we have been lead to believe. Any perceived benevolence was the superficial face of the Zionist plan of world ownership. Their plan was well laid back in the early 20th century.

    • Bill 1.1

      Ad’s open to ridicule? Really!?

      Like…more than might be attracted by talking about a Zionist plan of world ownership? Y’know, that really is pushing the dial of credulity to snapping point right there garibaldi.

    • Ad 1.2

      Any more anti-Semitic shit and I will have your ass banned. Clear?

      • One Two 1.2.2


        Seems you have made a common fundamental ‘mistake’ with what you believe ‘Zionism’ to be..

        The way I interpreted G’s comment and your response do not align..

        The tattered curtain used to halt certain discussions, has had its time…

        • In Vino

          Inclined to agree. To me the World Domination thing does seem a bit comic-bookish, but anti-Semitic is a very broad brush. There are, I understand, plenty of Jews and even Israelis who oppose expansive Zionist policies. Garibaldi may not actually be anti-Semitic.

          • One Two

            ‘Domination’ (incomplete) has already been achieved (on-going), and manifests itself in many familiar and unfamiliar insidious forms…

            Threatening a ban with a misused ‘ism’ seemingly based in ignorance, is poor..

            That particular ‘ism’ has been overused and misused throughout history, to the point where it has become perverse

          • McFlock

            Nah. As soon as you expand it to beyond Israel, “Zionism” is a cowardly way of saying “Jewish”. Goes from legitimate political complaint about the actions of a state and into something very bad indeed.

            • In Vino

              Disagree. Some may misuse ‘Zionism’ but others don’t. Including, as I said, a number of Jews and Israelis who do not like current Israeli policies. Delicate topic. The usual has happened here. The mention of anti-Semitism has squashed Garibaldi’s very blunt introduction of the topic of Zionism right out of the whole thread. There is a problem of Israeli influence in the USA, seen by some as crucial to the situation. But Ad did not mention it in his post, and Garibaldi promptly threw in something like a stick of dynamite…

              • McFlock

                Unless Garibaldi has some reasonable link to support the contention that the state of Israel has a “plan of world ownership”, I’ll keep my opinion.

  2. Bill 2

    That’s a long post Ad, incorporating a lot of (too many?) topics or facets of America’s political landscape.

    To pick up on just one, maybe somewhat timeworn thread.

    Even Robert Reich (nice but somewhat naive liberal that he is) recognised that the last election was going to be won by the corporations, no matter which of the two Presidential contenders won.

    He also recognises that the centre is broken, shaky (use whatever description you prefer) and that it will break in an authoritarian direction or an empowering direction (right or left if you will).

    Here’s where I diverge from his opinion.

    Whereas he put the inevitable (further) ascendancy of corporate America down to changes in election funding, I put it down to Sanders losing the Democratic nomination. He represented a populist break to the left and he wasn’t funded by, and therefore beholden to, corporate sponsors. With him gone, there was only the centre and the populist right wing break from the centre.

    And both of thoe political positions belong to corporate america. And as I’ve said repeatedly, many people took a punt on the unknown when faced with the prospect of another five years of that political centre grinding them down.


    Same as they were at election day. Americans organise and mobilise, and if they are smart, avoid being co-opted by a centrist Democratic Party desperate to regain legitimacy in the eyes of voters.

    I’m optimistic.

    • Peter 2.1

      Who cares let the warmongering basterds burn

      • Bill 2.1.1

        Again. What’s with the idiocy that can’t separate a personification of a state from the people who happen to live in a given country?

        Next thing you’ll be arguing that ISIS et al have the moral high ground and assert they are correct to claim that all western civilians are legitimate targets of theirs, given that we all voted in the governments we have, and our governments have declared ISIS et al to be enemies. 🙄

      • KJT 2.1.2

        No. USA’ians on the whole are decent people who truly believe the USA is the worlds beneficial policemen.

        They would be as horrified as any of us, if they actually knew what their Government does overseas.

        • D'Esterre

          KJT: “They would be as horrified as any of us, if they actually knew what their Government does overseas.”

          If one reads comment threads on some US blogsites, it’s clear that at least some of them are only too painfully aware of what’s being done in their names by successive US administrations. Still and all, it’s very far from being a critical mass, which comprises the people who – as you point out – sincerely believe that their country’s influence overseas is benign. The msm and Hollywood propaganda both have a lot to answer for.

  3. red-blooded 3

    That’s more than optimistic, Bill. The word “delusional” springs to mind.

    Hey, I hope you’re right and a second American Revolution occurs, this time an uprising against the corporations and their stale, disempowering form of democracy. It’s hard to see much sign of it so far, though. So many of the people who have the most reason to rise up seem to think that they’re doing so by supporting Trump!

  4. Anne 4

    A lot of meat there to chew over. Thanks AD. I will have to do my chewing later.

    … the President will never be impeached, will not walk from office, and will continue his current executive and policy direction for four more years. This is their political future until 2025 and probably beyond.

    I hope you’re wrong! Contemplating such a scenario is almost too much to bear. The damage to the whole world would be inestimable.

    Personally, I have the impression Mueller and co. are moving ever closer to the disorderly clown at the top of the Xmas tree. The parallels with the long- fought investigation into the Watergate Scandal are remarkable similar. There’s every reason to hope the outcome will be similar. Fingers and toes tightly crossed.

    • Andre 4.1

      “There’s every reason to hope the outcome will be similar.”

      Y’know, had Watergate happened today, I think Nixon would have very safely completed his second term.

      What’s changed is that partisanship has dramatically increased, and the numbers of Representatives and Senators willing to put principle, integrity and country above naked self-interest and winning has reduced. Relatedly, what has become the biggest career threat to most congresspeople is not losing to the opposing party, it’s losing a primary to extremists of their own party. So I really don’t think impeachment and conviction is going to happen, because too many Repugs fear the eternal wrath of the Trumpkins more than anything else.

      I don’t think that’s a bad thing, either. Don of the Braindeads’ utter incompetence reduces the damage he actually does. But he’s pretty good at ripping away the facade and exposing the venal nastiness of what really motivates Repugs. The unpopularity of the tax “reform” bill coming up for vote shows that Americans might just be starting to see the Repug agenda for what it really is. So better to leave him there to continue exposing the rot, rather than replace him with a slicker Repug that could actually start putting the facade back up again.

      • red-blooded 4.1.1

        Y’know, had Watergate happened today, I think Nixon would have very safely completed his second term.

        What’s changed is that partisanship has dramatically increased, and the numbers of Representatives and Senators willing to put principle, integrity and country above naked self-interest and winning has reduced.

        I guess that’s why so many are desperate to shift the balance in the House and Senate in the 2018 elections. The whole House is up for election along with a third of the Senate. At present, Different organisations have different predictions, but the historical pattern is interesting:
        The mean result for a president’s party in postwar midterms is a loss of 25 House seats. The median result is a loss of 22 seats. (Next year, Republicans need to lose at least 24 seats to lose the House.)
        In 16 out of those 18 midterms, the president’s party has lost House seats.
        …Those two lonely postwar occasions in which the president’s party gained midterm seats were 1998, when Bill Clinton had 66 percent approval, and 2002, when George W. Bush had 63 percent approval.
        (Trump’s is 38 – although of course that could change for better or worse in the next year.)

        That commentary comes from Vox, who note that the gerrymandering of the various boundaries will still make it really difficult for the Dems to take congress, but that any Senators that are elected will still be in place when the next redrawing occurs, making it a significant time to try to balance things out for the future.

        This is an awful aspect of the US system! Just another constitutional issue that – sooner or later – they need to confront and change. (I’m not holding my breath…)

        This site rates the Senate seats up for election in 2018. There are 34 seats up for election, 26 of which are already held by Dems, and they need to take 2 more to gain control of the Senate. This site shows current polling has 3 Dem seats and 2 Repug seats looking like they could go either way, with various others having quite weak majorities.

        Anyway, I know some would rather wait for the revolution, but I really hope the Dems can come back strongly in the elections. No, they’re not a truly Left party, but they’re not anywhere near as awful as the alternative, and sometimes that’s worth supporting.

    • joe90 4.2

      There’s every reason to hope the outcome will be similar.

      Only if you’re a woman.


      Let's play Alternate Universe. It's 2017, and President Hillary Clinton is facing charges that Chelsea met with Russians who offered oppo on Trump. Chelsea didn't call the FBI; and Clinton nat sec adviser Jake Sullivan lied to the FBI about talking to the Russians. /1— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) December 18, 2017


    • D'Esterre 4.3

      Anne: “Personally, I have the impression Mueller and co. are moving ever closer to the disorderly clown at the top of the Xmas tree. The parallels with the long- fought investigation into the Watergate Scandal are remarkable similar.”

      The Mueller investigation looks exactly like the McCarthyist witch hunts of my childhood, and it has as much substance, that is, none. I’m surprised that left-wingers, who are so vocal about the perfidies of the msm, would just uncritically swallow the bollix coming out of the likes of the NYT and the WaPo. And – regrettably – msm outlets here in NZ. See this:


      Both the Dems and the Republican establishment hate Trump’s guts.

      The Republicans were obliged to accept him because Republican voters overwhelmingly supported him, and they knew full well that if his nomination wasn’t accepted, the party would self-destruct. Had that happened, it would have been years, if ever, before the Republican party was in any kind of shape to contest an election.

      And the Dems hate him because Clinton was humiliated by her defeat at Trump’s hands. Hell hath no fury, and all that…

      The McCarthyist Mueller probe is being pushed as a means of impeaching Trump. And even when it fails to come up with any substantive evidence (as is the case thus far), it’ll be kept going for as long as possible, so as to white-ant his administration. Then of course, they’ve got the sexual harassment claims against him up their sleeve, to belt him about the ears with, when the Mueller thing peters out.

  5. Under President Reagan, the Cold War and all its smaller wars pretty much ended.

    Delusional statements like that really don’t help.

    America Has Been at War 93% of the Time – 222 out of 239 Years – Since 1776

    Below, I have reproduced a year-by-year timeline of America’s wars, which reveals something quite interesting: since the United States was founded in 1776, she has been at war during 214 out of her 235 calendar years of existence. In other words, there were only 21 calendar years in which the U.S. did not wage any wars.

    To put this in perspective:

    * Pick any year since 1776 and there is about a 91% chance that America was involved in some war during that calendar year.

    * No U.S. president truly qualifies as a peacetime president. Instead, all U.S. presidents can technically be considered “war presidents.”

    * The U.S. has never gone a decade without war.

    * The only time the U.S. went five years without war (1935-40) was during the isolationist period of the Great Depression.

    Indeed, most of the military operations launched since World War II have been launched by the U.S.

  6. Psych nurse 6

    The US has always been isolationist, bigoted and ill educated,only 36% hold a passsport. If the Americans we see appear opinionated,overbearing and deluded as to their place in the World, imagine what the rest are like. Thats what makes them as a Nation so dangerous.

    • Ed 6.1

      And their sense of ‘manifest destiny’

    • Bill 6.2

      For crying out loud!

      Is it really so difficult to separate the vast array of people who live in the USA out from a personification of the US establishment? Or is bigoted broad brush stroke all you got?

    • Ad 6.3

      Almost all US citizens I’ve met have been gracious, interesting, highly hospitable people.

      This is not a post designed to slag off Americans.

      So stop it now.

      • AB 6.3.1

        Thanks Ad. I want to reinforce this comment. Whatever prejudices I had about Americans in general were blown away by the wonderful way we were treated when we took our son for surgery (not available in NZ) in a major Midwestern city a few years back.
        Frankly I was left shaking my head at how such nice people could tolerate living in a society that (to me) seemed like such a dysfunctional mess.

        • gsays

          I would agree AB.
          I found folks in the US- California, Arizona and New York to be the friendliest and most hospitable of any of the ‘western’ countries I visited.

          Having said.all that…. when an empire falls, it doesn’t go quietly.
          Hopefully we are protected by distance to not catch too much of the flak.

    • Obtrectator 6.4

      The equivalent percentages would be far smaller among Russians and Chinese, I’d suspect. (Correct me, anyone?)

  7. D'Esterre 7

    “Why does this era of U.S. politics feel so different to any other in our lifetime?”

    I’m a longtime observer of the political circus, both in the US and elsewhere. The US situation looks to me much as it always has.

    Take note of DTB’s link above: that’s what the US has been like all of my lifetime. Though back in my youth, we were propagandised into accepting all those military adventures as being a version of the noble war: justified interventions in pursuit of democracy and freedom, blah, blah, blah.

    I have no roseate view of Obama; nor of any of his predecessors, going right back to WW2.

    The awful truth is, it is the office of the US president – with all its associated works and pomps – people ought to worry about. Individual incumbents have very little power to effect change, no matter how well-intentioned they may be. As Trump has found; as Obama did. And all previous office-holders, for all of my lifetime.

    • red-blooded 7.1

      Trump’s “tax reforms” are going to strip away healthcare from 13 Million Americans. That’s a pretty significant (awful) outcome of his power as president.

      But hey, so long as the rich don’t have to pay estate duties and the corporations get permanent tax cuts…

  8. D'Esterre 8

    I’d add that the rest of the world ought to thank its lucky stars that Hillary Clinton wasn’t elected. She’s the only candidate in recent times (that I can recall) who is not only happy with the foreign policy status quo, but actually keen to ramp up military interventionism. The unfortunate potential victims have dodged a bullet there.

    And despite a lot of bellicose turkey-cock strutting from Trump and Kim, the US hasn’t yet attacked NK. I wouldn’t be holding my breath about that, had Clinton been elected.

    • red-blooded 8.1

      I’d add that the rest of the world ought to thank its lucky stars that Hillary Clinton wasn’t elected. She’s the only candidate in recent times (that I can recall) who is not only happy with the foreign policy status quo, but actually keen to ramp up military interventionism.


      Clinton supported the Iran deal, supported better relations with Cuba, supported a two state solution between Israel and Palestine (hey, I’m not saying she would have achieved it, but she wouldn’t have been actively stirring things up and making them worse). She ruled out US military intervention in Iraq or Syria. To be fair, she did say similar things to Trump about a military response if North Korea went nuclear, although she wasn’t as crude and immature in the way she said this and she didn’t threaten annihilation through “fire and fury”. Maybe she would have taken some (other) kind of military action, I guess we’ll never know.

      • francesca 8.1.1

        No she didn’t, she supported the Iraq war and she was an advocate of a nofly zone in Syria.The logistics of that mean taking out all of Syria’s air defences which are necessarily located in densely populated cities.The majority of Syrians within Syria live in govt protected cities. These people would be the collateral damage of Clintons intervention.She advocated the same in Libya and exulted in Gadaffi’s death She urged Husband Bill to bomb Serbia, which went on unrelentingly for 78 days and caused more civilian deaths than the civil war, and continues, with the rising cancer rates of depleted uranium contamination

        • red-blooded

          Clinton’s got a long record in US politics and her position on lots of things, including the Iraq war, changed as circumstances and available info changed and as she learned from experience. She initially voted in favour of the invasion of Iraq, but later said that the vote had been rushed and based on faulty info (the infamous “weapons of mass destruction” dossier). She wanted troops out of Iraq but for a long time didn’t feel there should be a set timeline – that it should depend on gaining a level of political stability there first. Leading up to the 2016 election, she was clear that she wanted no troops on the ground in Iraq or Syria.

          I’m not saying that I see Clinton as blameless in America’s foreign policy and its consequences – she was Sec of State for a term and a senator for a long time before being a presidential candidate, and during that time the US (as usual) was involved in plenty of conflict. She definitely favoured the safety of US troops and other citizens above the lives of (to her) foreign combatants and I think we’d have to admit that that stretched to civilian “collateral damage”, too. I doubt that you can name a US president that could withstand a similar accusation, though.

          Definitely no pacifist, but not the rabid warmonger that some paint her as, either. And, IMHO, still a better choice than Trump.

        • D'Esterre

          Francesca: “….she supported the Iraq war and she was an advocate of a nofly zone in Syria.The logistics of that mean taking out all of Syria’s air defences which are necessarily located in densely populated cities.The majority of Syrians within Syria live in govt protected cities. These people would be the collateral damage of Clintons intervention.”


          “She advocated the same in Libya and exulted in Gadaffi’s death”

          Yup, that too.

          “She urged Husband Bill to bomb Serbia, which went on unrelentingly for 78 days and caused more civilian deaths than the civil war, and continues, with the rising cancer rates of depleted uranium contamination”

          Indeed. The real war criminals in this terrible conflict – Clinton, Blair, Helmut Kohl and Franjo Tudjman – have yet to be brought to justice. Tudjman and Kohl can’t now be held to account, of course, since they’ve fallen off the perch. Not too late for Blair and old Bill, though.

        • red-blooded

          I don’t see any proof there that Clinton would have ramped up military interventionism. I see one journalist interpreting Clinton’s comments in one of the presidential debates and putting his own spin on them (eg saying she had plans to invade Libya but was dressing them up with talk of safe zones and no-fly zones). I also note that this guy is quick to bat away any idea that Russia may be a destabilising force or having an influence in America.

          Hey, this guy may have it right about Clinton, but there’s no way of proving it one way or the other because we’re not going to get to see how she would have behaved as president. I still maintain that she would have been a hell of a lot better than the bullying, corrupt, misogynistic, self-interested and incompetent incumbent.

          • D'Esterre

            red-blooded: “I don’t see any proof there that Clinton would have ramped up military interventionism.”

            Well, I guess I could give you the benefit of the doubt, and conclude that either you’re too young to have been aware of what Clinton’s been doing these past few years, or you haven’t been paying attention.

            However, I think it more likely that you were so desperate for a Dem win – perhaps in the belief that they’re left-wingers, or because Trump was seen as so unsuitable – that you were prepared to overlook Clinton’s rap sheet. But unfortunately, she has “form”, as does the odious old Bill.

            No doubt about it: US voters were between the devil and the deep blue sea at the last election. That may not have been the case, though, had the Dems not white-anted Bernie Sanders so that Clinton could take the nomination.

            But in respect of foreign policy – the only aspect of the US enterprise which is likely to affect us – the Establishment has made sure to get most of what it wants from Trump, though he hasn’t put his foot on the war accelerator quite as much as they’d like.

    • joe90 8.2

      I’d add that the rest of the world ought to thank its lucky stars that Hillary Clinton wasn’t elected.

      Yeah, and all the folk killed by the tRump regime, too.


      Through August, the United States dropped 2,487 bombs in Afghanistan—more than Barack Obama dropped in his last two years as president combined. In August, more bombs fell there than in any month since 2012.


      Trump has accelerated the pace of air strikes in other conflicts as well. In Iraq and Syria, the American-led coalition has unleashed more bombs each month under Trump than Obama did in any month throughout the entire campaign against ISIS, which began in 2014. In Yemen, Trump has carried out 92 strikes or raids against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula—just shy of the number of attacks that Obama oversaw in his entire second term. In Somalia, the United States is carrying out an average of one strike against the jihadist group Al Shabaab every 15 days—a sharp escalation compared to Obama. And in Pakistan, Trump ended a nine-month pause in drone strikes with four unmanned bombings—more than Obama conducted during his final year in office.


      The consequences of Trump’s military aggression can be seen in the number of civilians killed by U.S. air strikes. Since taking office, Trump has overseen nearly 60 percent of all civilian casualties from air strikes in Iraq and Syria since the air war began. In Afghanistan, civilian casualties skyrocketed by 70 percent during the first six months of this year, compared to the same period last year. And in Yemen, Trump’s support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign has exacerbated what has become a staggering humanitarian crisis..


      • D'Esterre 8.2.1

        Joe 90: “Yeah, and all the folk killed by the tRump regime, too.”

        Trump has been comprehensively suborned by the US military and political establishment. Do you seriously believe that Clinton wouldn’t have taken the same actions? She’s been on the neocon side for many years.

        I’d add that the author of that article could have substituted Obama for Trump, and it would have read like an account of Obama’s time in the White House. Remember all that hopey changey stuff when he was first elected? Palin twitted him about that, and rightly. He abandoned it quicksmart when he came to office; the same as has Trump.

        As I pointed out earlier, it is the office of the president that people need to worry about; presidents come and go, but US foreign policy is a constant.

        Any president looking to make substantive changes to the US enterprise would be walking a difficult and dangerous path. They’d need to be on the lookout for assassins.

  9. Carolyn_nth 9

    Meanwhile, a researcher from a business-focused perspective, Nicholas Borroz, today outlines a different future for the US – state-led capitalism.

    He rightly points out that there have been features in US governance that have included elements of state capitalism – state intervention in the interests of the corporate and finance sectors, and the military-industrial complex.

    Borroz argues that non-US state-led capitalist countries are setting the pace – especially China, but also Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. And thus, the US to survive as a strong international presence needs to follow in the same direction.

    he sees Trump as making state-led capitalism more explicit in the US:

    So, Trump is doing nothing qualitatively new. What is different is how explicit his rhetorical support is for state intervention in markets.

    But Trump’s language and behaviour reflects a willingness to explicitly intervene in market activity. And perhaps he is justified in thinking and speaking this way. If the United States is to hold its own and retain a position of global leadership, it may need to play by the rules of a new game.

    I see this approach as being a likely powerful force in the US, and the way the elites may go to maintain power.

    Of course, it will not be done easily – it will be an on-going site of struggle between the capitalists, and the more liberal and left wing sections of US society and politics.

    And still the US may still continue to lose ground to other countries.

    In NZ, those of us on the left, need to be making alliances with the left wings in many other countries, to counter this trend at home.

    • Ad 9.1

      President Trump is certainly gutting and stacking regulators.

      But that is a ways different from a Temasek or China Infrastructure Bank.

      Soon as he reforms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and reintroduces Glass-Segal, or lists DARPA on NASDAQ, I’ll believe it.

      • Carolyn_nth 9.1.1

        The article isn’t so much indicating that Trump isn’t fully for a state-led form of capitalism, just that he’s heading in that direction, and that it will be welcomed by those fully on board with that approach.

        BTW, the current Lab-NZF government is also for state-led capitalism, implying it’s more left wing than previously because it embraces state intervention and is thus a move away from neoliberalism.

        But this ignores that there always was state intervention behind the free market rhetoric. The extent of free marketeerism differed from place to place and over time – just as the extent of state intervention will/is differing under the umbrella of state-led capitalism.

    • State-led capitalism, whether it be in East Asia or any other region of the world – Russia and Saudi Arabia are prominent instances – allows governments to cooperate with market actors and incentivise them to pursue long-term goals. Such political support insulates businesses from risks associated with projects that would otherwise be unprofitable in strictly market terms.

      If that researcher had bothered to read The Entrepreneurial State by Mariana Mazzucato he would have realised that the US has always been a state-led capitalism. It’s always funded huge research and development that isn’t itself profitable but the resultant products are.

      The difference seems to be that China has realised that it can print money and not have any debt associated with it. The US hasn’t and so it’s private banking sector acts as a huge anchor for the rest of it’s economy and as its financialisation continues that anchor gets bigger.

      The same applies in NZ and pretty much all Western democracies.

  10. francesca 10

    There may have been a reduction of US boots on the ground…body bags coming home
    is now electorally unpopular, but the billions of taxpayers money spent on arms sales and funding “moderate” militants all over the world in areas of American interest continue unabated.
    Not to mention the special ops whose true numbers remain secret
    To my mind Trump is not an aberration, just the consequence of decades of American hubris,abandonment of the working and middle classes by the Democrats and rising militarism over diplomacy.Which has now come home to bite them in the bum
    And as well, the types of weapons in vogue these days go on to kill for decades(numbers are unrecorded) I refer to land mines, depleted uranium, contamination of soil at weapon storage sites.Large areas of the ME are now uninhabitable
    The Pentagon has the largest carbon footprint of any other institution, but is, of course, exempt from climate change accounting

  11. ropata 11

    The USA is an empire in terminal decline. It had some good ideas and looked like a real democracy for a little while but all its institutions are rotten, when white collar criminals are not brought to justice and a serial sex abuser is the President, there is something seriously wrong. Its media is a tool of the corporations, the religious institutions are full of charlatans, and Wall St owns Washington. They are wiping themselves out with poisoned water, wildfires, crumbling infrastructure, tornadoes and hurricanes, and inept responses such as the abandonment of Puerto Rico.

    I wonder which state will secede first, California or Texas?

    • Stuart Munro 11.1

      Best guess might be somewhere northern – they could merge into Canada with no change except losing the hatred of half the world.

    • Et Tu Brute 11.2

      “Terminal decline” is a good way of putting it. Once the rot sets in, it is very hard to reverse the process. And if there is a renaissance it will be a very different environment to what we have today, so different it wouldn’t be America as we know it. The problems are just so deep-rooted and dug in over centuries.

  12. Sparky 12

    “Trump has abandoned his base in the area of trade, where he has offered rhetoric but not concrete action. Yes, he scrapped the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but Hillary Clinton would have done the same.”

    Really? Take a look at this and keep in mind Clinton was a part of a govt that drafted the thing whilst Secretary of State.



    • ropata 12.1

      The US backed the TPP as an Asia Pacific trading bloc to exclude China and reduce its sphere of influence. But now they can’t be bothered. I wonder how Wall St feels about that?

      If foreign relations & trade is a global game of chess, China has been making the US look like amateurs for the last decade.

  13. adam 13

    6.13 min video from the Young Turks, some interesting numbers around trump with his base. 3 more years of trump, and or God help us Pence


  14. Sanctuary 14

    South American levels of inequality means South American style politics which all equals basket case economy.

    • ropata 14.1

      The deep state ensures that any president or public figure stupid enough to challenge its power will be quickly despatched. (JFK, RFK, MLK,…)

      There’s an endless supply of right wing gun nuts desperate to die for the cause of useful idiocy in the name of flag idolatry

  15. ropata 15

    “The Simpsons” brilliant take on Trump, Mueller, et al

    Robert Mueller meets with President Donald Trump… #TheSimpsons pic.twitter.com/h693XgOPFM— The Simpsons (@TheSimpsons) December 14, 2017

  16. SPC 16

    I do not see much difference now to the regimes of Reagan and GWB (43) – tax cuts for the favoured elites and the renewed starvation of government.

    The major change is that another nation is going to supersede them as an economic and military power. And this challenge to the ruling order will end the containment policy that underpinned collective security. Not only that, it is already having a chilling effect on upholding human rights and advocating democracy.

  17. NZJester 17

    Even the Democratic party in the US has been taken over by big money selling policy for big bribes donations.
    There is a fight at the moment happening within that party with The Justice Democrats trying to take their party back. But those in the pockets of big money are trying to rig the system to keep the Justice Democrats out. They rigged the system to get Hillary as their candidate and lost the Election because of it. A lot of people who had been democrats all their lives found they had been changed to independent instead of democrat on the US electoral roll and could not vote for their parties presidential candidate because of the rules in their state.
    There is also a group called Wolf-Pac in the US that is made up of both Democrats and Republicans that are trying to get the legal bribes corporate money out of the US political system, by bringing in an amendment to the US constitution. They have had the amendment passed in some states, but need a few more before it becomes a legal amendment.
    Those two movements are what can save the US if they are in time.

  18. paul andersen 18

    what is good for detroit is good for america…so the slogan went. look at detroit now , america is following…

  19. Et Tu Brute 19

    I don’t know.

    Trump’s probably got three more years. In two years he’ll start looking like a lame duck (if not before). They’ll probably be a swing towards the Democrats, and as recent elections show the US is electing more and more ‘fringe’ candidates. So the next President will probably be left of Obama, and depending on how Trump works with congress, the Democrats could probably control that as well.

    What amazes me about the tax cuts is how much the US actually taxes its citizens. Remember how social democratic countries like ours are meant to have really high taxes to pay for all the benefits we give? Well we seem to run everything cheaper than they do. Irrespective of left or right, the US really needs to get a handle on their budget – and it doesn’t have to be along ideological lines. Almost every other western country a) serves its citizens better, and b) charges them less for it.

    I’ve often wondered if a problem in the US is how each senator and representative comes from an electorate. In New Zealand at least we also have heaps of list MPs. Only the President in the US has some semblance of responsibility for the whole country. I doubt they’d ever change, but having a federal list system would probably improve the pork barrel spending.

    • NZJester 19.1

      He is already looking like a lame duck. In a poll of viewers of the Republican Propaganda channel Fox his popularity has dropped below 60%.

    • Anne 19.2

      I’ve often wondered if a problem in the US is how each senator and representative comes from an electorate. In New Zealand at least we also have heaps of list MPs.

      Very good point Et TU Brute. People love to put down the list MPs because they don’t have an electorate. The charge is: they are a burden on the state and have no useful purpose. Its hogwash of course. Many of the list MPs I have known over the years have been the hardest working of them all, and being electorate-less means they can concentrate on matters affecting the whole country.

  20. timeforacupoftea 20

    Did you write this Advantage – “feminism won the battle even though the great electoral feminist war for the Presidency itself had been lost. Hillary was right all along – but that’s not enough”.

    Minnesota was a very strong Democrat State.
    They were so upset that Hillary Clinton was standing thousands were saying anybody other than Hillary Clinton.
    Nearly everyone I met (ok I am a woman) mostly women at the super market would greet you with “anybody other than Hillary Clinton”.
    I would reply yes she is Hilarious with the fits she has / is she mentally ill ? (stirring the pot)
    Yes sigh was the reply.
    Minnesotans were so annoyed about Clinton they stood 8 others against her and then add Donald.

    I don’t think any other State did that.

    Hillary Clinton Tim Kaine 1,367,716 46.44% 10
    Donald Trump Mike Pence 1,322,951 44.92% 0
    Gary Johnson William Weld 112,972 3.84% 0
    Evan McMullin Mindy Finn 53,076 1.80% 0
    Jill Stein Howie Hawkins 36,985 1.26% 0
    Dan Vacek Mark Elworth, Jr. 11,291 0.38% 0
    Darrell Castle Scott Bradley 9,456 0.32% 0
    Alyson Kennedy Osborne Hart 1,672 0.06% 0
    Rocky De La Fuente Michael Steinberg 1,431 0.05% 0
    Mike Maturen Juan Muñoz 244 0.01% 0

    That polarization, a main feature of this election, caused anxiety for some voters.

    “It has been possibly the scariest campaign that I’ve ever experienced,” said Carol Longtine, a 77-year-old Minneapolis voter who said she reluctantly went for Clinton. “I’m very afraid of the results. I’m afraid of whichever one gets elected. I’m afraid of civil unrest.”


  21. McFlock 21

    Trump could be a wake-up call for moderate republicans – whether it’s what speculators call a “dead cat bounce” is another issue.

    Sadly, the only recent model we have for a superpower collapse is the Soviet Union. That bodes poorly. Maybe Margaret Atwood wasn’t too far off.

  22. Matthew Whitehead 22

    I would also point out that the democratic decay may very well not end with Trump, even though there are signs that impeachment is a very real possibility for him. We have to remember that Trump is not entirely an aberration, rather, he is an expression of a long-running trend away from democratic norms and towards authoritarianism in the USA, and this trend is likely to outlive Trump in the Republican Party.

    This trend doesn’t look likely to reverse among republicans, however there is some indication that what’s happening instead is that moderates are de-labelling as Republicans instead. This may not, however, mean they oppose the democratic decay in the USA- instead, they may simply want a more sophisticated type of Republican than the trump-era ones, but are still quite happy to worship a “strong” authoritarian candidate. With no prominent Republicans looking like Presidential candidates who would actually support the norms of liberal democracies, I would fully expect the decline to continue as policy becomes increasingly irrelevant, institutions are undermined, and “compromises” are reached with Authoritarian Republicans. It would take a complete Democratic takeover of the federal government next election, with a Renaissance against oligarchical corporate tendencies in their own party, in order to make any significant strides to reversal.

  23. Michael 23

    If the US really does fold its tents and retreats into isolationism that should thrill most NZ lefties, for whom it represents the sole source of evil on our planet. Perhaps these same people will have more time to criticise Russia and China for their abuses of power and crimes against humanity? Or not.

    • timeforacupoftea 23.1

      I think that is a fair collation Michael.
      I note our left of left in NZ can’t stop talking about American politics.

      I have been to US many times and in general they are loverly people, you hear little political news on tv, but here it is on our news all day every day, it’s just crazy crap that we have hooked into.

      Generally the Americans I know just say we lost they won we will vote again soon and get on and enjoy life.

      Which I admit I do the same here when we win or loose party support.

    • Given the evidence of the damage that the US has done around the world would you ever berate the US?

      We on the Left do, as a matter of fact, criticise Russia and China as well.

    • KJT 23.3

      We expect abuses of power from China and Russia.

      When you friends and allies do it, i.e. “people like us” it is much more disappointing.

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