Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Next Wave


Coming Soon by Adam Spain

I wanted to check in on a few things and give you a feel for what we'll be working through here at FutureJacked over the rest of 2016.

KSA KSA KSA

First off, as I continue to insist you do on at least a weekly basis, let's check in on the Saudi stock index (one year chart):

SASEIDX via Bloomberg, 16 March 2016
Be wary. The Kingdom is the linchpin for the entire Middle East.


The US Presidential Primary

Back here in the USA, we had another round of Presidential Primary voting. While The Donald had a very solid night, it wasn't a slam dunk as Kasich took Ohio, meaning his insurgency campaign in the Republican Party will continue, but possibly be just successful enough to result in an epic meltdown in Cleveland this summer as the Republican Party bosses work to give the nomination to a Dark Horse candidate.

Bernie's insurgency looks to be failing as well, choking off that outlet for negative mood on the Democratic Party side of things.

I've mentioned before, it's one thing to do scenario planning and intellectual exercises on just what things look like when we shift into an intensely negative-mood era. It's another to live them and watch your country and your fellow citizens attempting to navigate those rough rapids.

Here are the scenarios I am working with today:

Scenario A

The Donald heads into Cleveland with a big plurality, but not majority, of delegates. There, on the ground, he will fail to garner enough votes on the first ballot. As the rounds proceed, the party bosses, who control the various state-level machines and who have positioned "double agents" among the delegate who will vote against Trump once they are unbound, begin to assert themselves. A "savior" is found who will "bring the party together". How the factions play out will determine whether that "savior" is Ted Cruz, Kasich, Romney, or some other figure the elites believe will be able to show a good face.

Riots ensue. Some sparked by Trump supporters, some sparked by outside agitators. The number of "Trump is Hitler" references breaks Google search.

Trump then forms a third party challenge, co-opting the Reform Party. The lack of state and local organization hurts the effort and with no slate of viable congressional, senate, and state level candidates, prevents this effort from achieving anything other than eviscerating the Republican effort.

The Republican candidate finishes third, behind HRC and Trump. President Clinton (v2.0) takes office and the Republican Party moves towards an Evangelical-first party, cutting the economic libertarians loose.

President Clinton rides into office owing a great debt to minority voters and brings Identity Politics rhetoric to the forefront of the National conversation. A Republican-controlled House and Senate immediately begins to hold hearings on HRC's email servers and thwarts her every move, except for when she proposes a war to re-orient the Middle East back towards domination by the Sunni coalition led by the Saudis.

Assumptions: The elites are still powerful enough to manipulate the outcome via procedural mechanisms and that The Donald's "ground game" is not strong enough to overcome it. Basically, this assumes Trump is a reflection of the anger out there, but that he has not built a formal party mechanism to channel this anger to victory (unlike that German guy he is constantly compared to).

 

Scenario B

The Donald heads into Cleveland with a majority of delegates on the back of big wins in states such as New York and New Jersey. The convention is disrupted by outside agitators, quietly abetted by the Party bosses. The Donald manages to cut a deal for an acceptable-to-the-Establishment Vice Presidential candidate. The premium costs for The Donald's life insurance policies immediately skyrockets.

Trump heads into election season in the midst of a significant market downturn, blamed on him. HRC blasts him with speeches that warm the hearts of policy wonks of both the Red Tribe and Blue Tribe. The Donald blasts back with invective, talk of how Bill Clinton's NAFTA really did result in a giant sucking sound of American jobs going to Mexico and that he is ready to "Fire" the Establishment.

Amazingly to Nate Silver and other "right-thinking" Americans, he wins, as a big enough slice of angry Bernie voters cross over to support him. Congress amazingly re-discovers its Constitutional imperative to be a co-equal in government and begins to thwart The Donald's every move. The elites heap the blame on Trump for the grinding recession which sweeps across the USA...

Assumptions: The elites are too fractured to come together and stop him at the Convention. Negative mood continues to build and people are more interested in voting against the existing system and using Trump as their vehicle.

Those are my two main working scenarios. I have a few others which I hope to never trot out. Reading up on the disintegration of Yugoslavia, though. Not that I am connecting any dots in that fashion at all...

What Next for Political Structures?

With the political alignments which have been in place at least since 1980 (and one might argue since 1932 in terms of the Welfare-Warfare State) coming apart at the seams, what kind of new parties or party structures might we see fill the gap?

One way to approach it is to look at the fault lines that have been developing over the past decade - and think critically about them.  An article I'd strongly, strongly, suggest which covers this topic very well and in an even-handed way is I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup. Please read this and think about how the various groups and interests in play interact with each other.

We received what seems like a strong validation of the thesis presented in the Outgroup article via Kevin Williamson, writing in National Review Online a few days ago:

The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap, theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.

The elites of the Republican Party are showing yet again their disconnect from those they claim to lead. This guy will have garnered Trump another 400,000 votes by the time his article has finished making the rounds of social media.

After the demolition or severe weakening of the party system we've all grown up with aside, what might come next?

My plan is to build up a picture of what a new political movement might look like in the coming months. This effort will be focused on those of us out in Flyover Country and see how might the various "Left Behind" groups (or the "Unprotected" to use Peggy Noonan's phrase) come together to pursue a set of policies and vision that can address the strip-mining of jobs for those not in the Technorati, how some of the (sometimes radical) policies we'll look at play in with ethnic tensions, national security, economic structures, etc., and how we can come out the other side of this massive wave with a more positive set of structures.

The aim is to build a system that doesn't leave behind a mass of Morlocks, whose only life goals should be to learn how to game a pernicious welfare system, win the jackpot by getting signed up for crazy money, and finding ways to score illegal drugs while keeping mental health and drug rehab facilities underfunded and stigmatized.

More to come.

Buckle up in the meantime.

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