United States

Nov 10, 2016

Rundle responds to Keane: no, it is the stupid economy

It wasn't racism that led to a Trump Presidency, it was economics. People are doing it hard, and they want someone to fix it.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Donald Trump

OK, let’s get one thing out of the way first. The term neoliberalism has become a reverse straw man for some on the right or centre, criticising those on the left. Yes, neoliberalism — a useful concept for a historical period and movement, and covering far more than abstract liberal economics — has become an overused term, often incorrectly invoked.

But I haven’t seen it much invoked in talking of Trump’s victory and appeal in the rust belt states. Even if it has, it’s irrelevant to the argument as to whether Trump’s appeal was around questions of trade, employment and industry, or whether that is something of an illusion.

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47 thoughts on “Rundle responds to Keane: no, it is the stupid economy

  1. Karen

    So, the voting cohort that put Trump in are not ‘stupid white men’ but ‘aspirational, lower middle class ‘ (predominantly white people) you find in the outer suburbs of metropolitan cities in Australia (ie. usually Labor but reborn LNP types)?

    1. Marlo Inaustralia

      Well said, Karen. When ever Bernrad takes off his rose coloured glasses all he sees is pictures of match stick men and “stupid white people”.

    2. AR

      Howard’s battlers, living on Jones’ Struggle Street.

  2. Andrew Seeze

    I hope Rundle has had time to follow the money trail from the Clinton foundation and see where the loot has been spent. Even Rundle with his demeanor of tolerance will puke. I believe when Abbott was in office the Australian tax payers contributed something in the high millions. Damn disgrace.

    1. Aethelstan

      I hope Rundle also follows the Trump tax issue, the Trump University case where he stiffed students and his mistreatment and underpaying of workers on Trump projects … oh and also the sexual groping cases …

      1. Mrb

        But he hasn’t, so far, been a huge spruker for arms industry like Clinton… she was selling death.

  3. jaywhar

    Can’t they be screwed by the economy AND racist?

    1. David Irving (no relation)

      Yes, I’m sure most of them can fart and chew gum.

      1. Draco Houston

        ha, that’s a great way to put it.

        Of course there are actual racists that voted Trump. According to polling some were even With Her! But we should always remember that even racists gotta pay the bills, look after a family and so on. There’s lots of normies that are racist. I don’t think most people that bring up this argument are even attempting to say there aren’t a bunch of racists who vote, who in addition to that also voted for Trump.

        We should be thinking about any factor that lead to this moment. The economic explanation is pretty good, but I don’t think it covers everything. Purely cultural explanations don’t really explain why non-whites and women voted for trump at all, except to consider it false consciousness. There is a 3rd angle I have seen argued, what we saw was a collapse of the current political class in the US. Both parties couldn’t nominate good candidates, low turnout, Clinton losing a lot of Obama’s voters etc. But once that is identified, you have to ask, why is there a political crisis? What caused it?

        I think the voting patterns of a whole nation defies simple explanations. Millions of people aren’t a monolithic hive mind.

  4. Carbon Footprint

    Ok, so you’ve identified why the working poor feel insecure and hanker for the 1960s, but isn’t that the easy part.
    The hard part is to decide how to help improve the economic and social disadvantage we see for many in western economies and ask how can government help fix this?
    Trumps policies will only make things worse, whilst Australian politicians are similarly clueless. Surely that is the question that should be asked.

    1. Carbon Footprint

      My apologies it’s Dodd-Frank they want to repeal, Glass-Steagall was the one that caused the problem in the first place.

      1. AR

        I think that Glass-Steagall was a 30s law, post the Great Depression that required a firewall between the investment & deposit areas of banking, as well as mandated reserves.
        It was Bubba Klinton who repealed it with his sleazy triangulation,across the aisle reaching and thus opened the way to the CDO shennanigans and GFC.

  5. helen johnson

    So are you suggesting there is no causative link between the first black president in the US being followed by a president supported by the KKK? Multiple historical precedents for white supremacist backlashes against African American progress not a factor?

  6. Will

    What a conundrum today, eh? At the level of international economics a country’s choice is either neoliberalism, or suffer. At the level of international politics it’s illiberalism, or suffer. Of course, if you put them to the test, the masses of even liberal democracies will choose economic over political well being, so our leaders struggle to determine which particular combination of neoliberalism and illiberalism will deliver sufficient mass economic well being to keep them in power for the time being. That’s it. That’s the game. There’s no liberalism without illiberalism today, Mr Keane.

    1. AR

      Many countries have shown that they prefer stability to democracy, money to fairness and power to pauperism.

  7. James O'Neill

    Spot on analysis Guy. The question now is: has the message been received and understood by our politicians?

    1. Charlie Chaplin

      It may well have been received and understood, James, but if the current blame game going on in the US is anything to go by nothing will be done with the knowledge to help the American people.

      Our own esteemed leader Mr Turnbull’s dogwhistling racism and welfare dependency-ism yet again to deflect any scrutiny of rising labour underutilisation and inequality suggests the message has been received, understood and pissed on here, too.

      It’s business as usual: divisive identity politics as far as the eye can see until the end of time.

      The people who legislate economic inequality don’t live it and unfortunately the vast majority who write to explain civil unrest don’t either.

      Thank you for being one of the few exceptions that proves the rule, Guy Rundle.

  8. Bo Gainsbourg

    Spot on, GDP measures tell you very little about how most people in the U.S. are doing. It no longer represents a general marker of prosperity, for the 1% maybe, not for everyone else. And point well made, Hillary should have thumped Trump in the lower demographics, but didn’t, she just scraped by. And stacks of the Trump voters either voted for Obama last time or just didnt turn up this time. Which points to more than just racism and sexism. That was there for sure, always has been, and the more extreme versions have been given a boost by this, which is damn ugly. But the key thing here is that Americans in the main realise their economy is stacked against them, and wanted to bore it up the perceived establishment (of which Hilary was one in their perception, and why Sanders consistently outpolled Trump) and they’ve just done that. I hate it, but if you don’t sheet this home to the effects of broken, shrunk govt services, unfettered corporate power, and outsourced jobs through free trade agreements, you really aren’t paying attention.

    1. Aethelstan

      Bo … shrunk government services!!! … Lordy man … Trump is going to shrink them further … especially health services … will that please his supporters …

  9. Grumpy Old Sod

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, Guy. It is economics for the majority of his voters – just look at how the ‘rust belt’ states voted Republican for the first time in a generation for proof of that. While not having very much time for Trump, I had far less for Clinton with her money gouging foundation, incestuous linkages to Wall Street and the Saudis with their Wahabism that is the core of ISIS, ISIL or whatever else they are called and her plainly insane militarism which could have threatened life on this planet if allowed to continue. Maybe Donald will address the US’ infrastructure problems which just may put a lot of those who voted for him back into paid full time employment. Now that would lift the spirits of the US.

    1. Hunt Ian

      Well, well. So lots of things apart from economics come into opposing Hilary Clinton, who curiously turns out to support ISIS, and to be a war monger but when it comes to Trump we may ignore his appeals to sexism and racism. His three year pursuit of Obama over whether he was really born in America is not an example of racism? Please.
      Yes, a lot of people voted for Trump because he promised to help out the white lower middle class and working class in states where industry has been declining. But there were a lot of reasons, including racism and sexism for why he won and he won by very small margin too. A few more of Bernie Sanders supporters voting for Hilary Clinton would have helped and even the FBI director not using pathetic excuses to make an announcement that should not have been made might have changed the outcome, given how narrow the winning margin was.

      I would have referred to see Bernie Sanders run but he was blocked by worries about corporate funding, if he were the candidate, and the hope that after overcoming the absence of black presidents in the USA the democrats could have a capable female candidate become President.

      i think it quite likely that the decisive event that beat Clinton was the FBI enquiry but Guy is right to point to promises to change things for white working class and lower middle class voters. They will get nothing from Trump, I suspect.

      The serious version of help from the right is still Hitler’s plan for rearmament to wage imperial war in Eastern Europe. It worked very well as a Keynesian stimulus . But it is farcical to suppose that Trump could be anything but a less than half baked reincarnation of Adolf Hitler.

      1. Dog's Breakfast

        I too wished that Sanders had have been the democrat nominee Ian, but the rest isn’t what GOS was saying.

        Clinton was open to attack due to her record, not her gender, which is essentially what GR is saying, and GOS says with different points.

      2. James O'Neill

        Ian, the FBI inquiry was farcical. Come announced that they had 650,000 new emails, and then a week later said that their original decision was unchanged. i.e. they examined 80,000+ emails per day. Give me a break. The msm did not disclose more than a tidbit of those emails, but social media was full of the detail. People knew that Clinton was a pathological liar and had broken the law, not just by using her private email service for classified material, but using her position as Secretary of State to solicit funds for the Clinton Foundation, a giant money laundering operation. The pathetic diversionary tactic was to blame Russia, and our msm were no better. See the article up today on Gumshoe News.

    2. Carbon Footprint

      So you dislike Clinton for her Wall Street ties but let Trump off scott free when he is about to repeal Glass-Steagall, an criminal act removing all controls over the activities of investment banks? The guy is also planning to half company tax as well BTW.

      Do you really think Republicans and the Tea Party are going to support a big government big spending infrastructure program, not going to happen.

      1. Grumpy Old Sod

        I dislike Clinton because of her actions in Libya where a leader was killed by having a bayonet shoved up his anus and it took two hours with a final mercy bullet to kill him. A bloody gruesome and cruel death and Clinton’s reaction? “We came, we saw, we killed” – giggle, giggle. This leader had given his people free education, free health and free housing. Once killed $16Bill in gold disappeared from their vaults coincidentally while a US warship was in their main port. Clinton was the Sec of State at the time and in all probability watched his death on satellite feed. Libya is now an anarchistic state from which ISIS and ISIL gain many troops. Thanks Hills. And Obama is on record as saying that Libya is his one regret though it is also on record that Clinton was the prime mover for that cluster fuck.
        Clinton also was a very loud cheer leader for the Iraqi disaster, for which, like Blair, she makes no apology although there were enough war crimes committed there by the US to fill a book – 2 just for example: white phosphorous and depleted uranium both used at the sacking of Falluja, both contrary to UN agreements, both leading to long term illnesses for the residents of that blighted city. Hillary hasn’t mentioned it at all, surprisingly.
        Finally, with Syria, a war which the US has absolutely no legal right to be there either via the UN Charter or via international law. Clinton wished to impose a ‘no fly zone’ over the country, exactly what she managed to do with Libya thus hastening its destruction. Russia, which has been allied to Syria since the time of the end of WW2 came to the aid of the legitimate government of Syria at the Syrian’s govts. request, as is permissible by UN Charter and international law. If this no fly zone was put into place, then there would have been a very strong possibility that Russia and the US could have got into a very hot war that could have ended up with mushroom clouds over Washington DC and Moscow at the least.
        So my dislike of Clinton stems from the fact that she is a rabid war monger who could have brought all our lives to a shuddering end by her manic desire to keep on breaking international law. The Wall St reference is to the fact that Wall St is the banker for the US war machine and that the Clintons, both Bill and Hillary are well noted within the States for their servile adherence to the bankers for war and indeed, for their profiting from those very same bankers.
        Therefore Carbon Footprint, I dislike her because she’s proven herself time and time again to be a manic warmonger who couldn’t give a toss about you or me or anyone else. People call Trump a psychopath, something that he in all probability could be. People should call Hillary a psychopath because she has proven to be one through her actions but they don’t as the media hasn’t called her out at all. Ask yourself why not and you can see the bankers’ influence once again.
        And to finalise my response, let me take you to when the US air force, in conjunction with the Norwegian and Australian air forces ‘inadvertently’ bombed a Syrian army encampment a couple of months ago. What was not reported in our fair and just media was that this bombardment went on for over 2 hours killing over 60 Syrian troops along with 3 Russian advisers. Immediately the bombardment stopped ISIS and their band of head cutters attacked, thus giving the impression that they were primed for the event. ‘Inadvertent’ – sure. What was also not reported but was by the Iranian press and subsequently backed up by a Russian air force major general was that in retaliation 2 weeks later, 3 Kalibr cruise missiles were fired at a known US/Israeli intelligence post north west of Alleppo in a cave in the hills killing all there. That 3 missiles were fired was described by that major general as being a very clear message to the US and its allies in crime. You may have noticed the squeals of outrage coming from the western media and at that time Putin laid the Russian position down very clearly. ‘Attack us and expect retaliation’. This is the environment that Clinton wanted to impose a ‘no fly zone’ on. Madness, sheer bloody madness.
        We my friend dodged a very big bullet by not having Clinton as president and as much as I detest Trump I fear Clinton.

        1. AR

          Can’t disagree. The choice was between the Evil of Two Lessers.

        2. Carbon Footprint

          You can’t blame the Secretary of State for every bad thing that happens in the world. Do you hate Biden, Obama or Kerry for the Syria atrocities. Or what about Condition Rice- she was S O S for the Iraq invasion – a few bad things happened there.

        3. Mrb

          Great work. All true. The indenity politics Clinton lovers have zero knowledge of her actual record. An appalling human being.

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