Sunday, March 6, 2016

Otto von Bismarck and the only way to beat Donald Trump

"Trump is Hitler! Trump is Hitler! Blah blah blah!"

Comparing so-and-so to Hitler has been part of American political discourse for decades: Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, George W Bush, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Osama bin Laden, and now Donald Trump. On and on and on and ad nauseum. Everything is Literally Hitler, and the comparison is never good.

I'd like to make a better comparison regarding events of these days to different German leader; Otto von Bismarck. The very first chancellor of the German Empire. Von Bismarck entered office as Germany was rapidly industrializing and joining the modern world at a breathtaking speed. The aristocratic Prussian did everything he could to keep the Junker class on top and Socialist workers locked out of power. Bismarck forbade the circulation of socialist literature. He gave police the power to stop, search and arrest socialist party members at will. And despite that, the Socialist movement steadily gained supporters because Socialists represented the interests of a growing number of people frustrated by the massive social changes of the day.

Sound familiar? It should.

If Bismarck were like Mitt Romney, he'd have dug in his heels and refuse to give up power, and refuse to even throw a few bread crumbs to the growing movement of frustrated people. He'd have used all the Kaiser's horses and all the Kaiser's men to suppress those upstart workers. And Germany would have fallen into a revolution much like France had some eighty years previously.

But Bismarck was no Mitt Romney. He was ten times the leader Romney, Rubio and all the other establishment fools are. Bismarck came to understand that in the rapidly-industrializing world the Junkers could not hold onto power AND keep their absolute privilege. One of the two had to give, and it was obvious which one.

In 1880 Bismarck relented, and created the world's first modern welfare state. He worked with industry, but also looked to stimulate growth by giving workers greater security by enacting labor laws and implementing a social safety net, something unheard of in the rest of the industrializing world. 

Bismark's plan worked very well. Through the late 1800s and beyond, violent class warfare exploded across France and the United States. The abysmal working conditions in Britain were enshrined by Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. For the masses, industrialization represented a new kind of misery and exploitation. This led to violent social upheaval.

But not in Germany. The Junker class remained firmly in power, and did so because instead of oppressing the growing Socialist movements, they simply took away the Socialists' legitimate reasons to be angry. Bismarck called this, "stealing their thunder." 

There's a lesson in this for the Republican establishment of today. The Republican base is angry. They've been ignored, exploited, taken for granted and even derided by the Republican establishment and the pathetic Pundit class in their employ. Even today I don't think these people realize just how much they are hated, and looking at the latest primary results, it couldn't be more clear that they are well outnumbered by the 'insurgent' forces in their party.

If the Republican establishment does not want to share power, then they would be wise to 'steal Trump's thunder,' and do so very soon. What would that look like? Trump's appeal comes from two places: Immigration and trade.

First and foremost, the establishment will have to get behind building a wall by Mexico, period. This is what the clear majority of Republican voters want. Most Americans as a whole are sick and tired of illegal immigration, so this will not be a difficult position to take. Implement eVerify, which will make it very difficult for illegal immigrants to find work. Cut welfare aid for illegal immigrants and bring net migration down to 200,000 per year or so. 

With trade, the Republicans will have to put a 'dumping penalty' in China, as well as a reciprocal tariff on imports. China already has multiple tariffs on US goods. The least America can do is reciprocate. It's probably also time to seriously review NAFTA, as Mexico is clearly not holding up its end of the bargain with enforcement of labor and environmental regulation, and it has lead to a nightmarish 'race to the bottom' which has hurt both countries. It's time to look seriously at that.

While the Republican donors and establishment may really not like these positions, not taking them will ultimately result in control of their party being wrestled from them. Perhaps violently. 


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