Iowa dad gets into heated row with Elizabeth Warren over student loans
Congress created this mess, and deserves to be hounded, and harassed because of their hubris. The cure is less government largesse, not more as Warren seems to think.
Once a community enacts urban containment policies and home prices begin to rise, it becomes impossible to undo the damage. The homeowners quickly believe that the new prices which are inflated by the artificial lack of supply are the "real" value of the home. This makes it all but impossible for these homeowners to accept the elimination of the urban containment policy and the resultant home price depreciation, which will follow. This is compounded by the fact that these homeowners will often use their homes as collateral to borrow money, making the loss of value deeply problematic.
The initial result of the urban containment policies are home price appreciation, and unaffordability, Portland finds itself in this phase. Later as the unaffordability becomes acute, a harsh boom and bust cycle take hold where property values run to unacceptably high levels, then implode and then start again; this is where the large Calfornia markets find themselves today. The last phase is best seen as Detroitization, where the market has chased out all of the rational people due to the boom/bust cycle and the inability of businesses to pay sufficient wages to support homeownership. At this point, the market faces a permanent decline in collapse, with home prices falling to near zero.
If the tech boom in California falters, housing prices in California are likely to collapse. If Tech cannot regain its footing, the housing markets in California are likely to implode.
Standard of Living Crisis Evident in New Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey | Newgeography.com
"One of the principal advances of the past two centuries has been the drastic reduction in poverty and the rise of a large middle-class, a process expertly detailed by economists Diedre McClosky and Robert Gordon. At the heart of this trend was the increase in the homeownership rate among the rapidly growing metropolitan population, which increasingly located in the suburbs, where land and houses were less expensive per square foot and which had good access to jobs, shopping and recreation.
For 16 years, the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey has rated housing affordability for metropolitan areas (which are both housing and employment markets) in multiple nations. Genuine analysis of housing affordability requires consideration of house prices in relation to household incomes. The Demographia Survey uses the Median Multiple, the median house price divided by the median household income to rate housing affordability (Figure 1).
This article summarizes the 16th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, including extracts. This year’s survey also includes an introduction featuring Singapore’s innovative and successful housing policy (“Focus on Singapore,” (Note 1) and a report on housing affordability in Russia (Note 2).
Housing Affordability in 2019
The Demographia Survey indicates that housing affordability has generally deteriorated over the last three decades in the 8 nations covered. By contrast, as late as three decades ago, (Figure 2) the national Median Multiples were “affordable” (3.0 or less) in six of the nations (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States).
Nonetheless, 10 of the 92 major markets remain affordable, all of them in the United States (Figure 4). The affordable major housing markets include Rochester, with a Median Multiple of 2.5, followed by Oklahoma City and Cleveland (2.7), Buffalo, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and St. Louis (2.8), Indianapolis and Hartford (2.9) and Tulsa (3.0).
The least affordable metropolitan areas, however, there has been considerable house price escalation relative to incomes, which has been associated with urban containment regulation.
There are 31 severely unaffordable major housing markets in 2019 out of a total of 92 (Figure 5). Hong Kong is the least affordable, with a Median Multiple of 20.8. Vancouver is second least affordable major housing market, with a Median Multiple of 11.9. Sydney ranks third least affordable, at 11.0, followed by Melbourne, at 9.5 and Los Angeles, at 9.0. Toronto and Auckland are tied for sixth least affordable, at a Median Multiple of 8.6. San Jose has a Median Multiple of 8.5 and San Francisco 8.4. London (Greater London Authority) has a Median Multiple of 8.2 and is the 10th least affordable major market.
The deterioration in housing affordability has made it nearly impossible for middle-income households to purchase the median price home, at least in the most unaffordable metropolitan areas. For example, in the United States, middle-income households (in the second through fourth income quartiles) did not have sufficient income in 2017 to qualify for a mortgage on the median priced house under typical financial terms in San Jose and Honolulu. Only top quintile (high-income) households qualified. The situation is nearly as dire in the San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas (Figure 6).
The Standard of Living Crisis
This housing affordability crisis is really a standard of living crisis, since the higher costs of living in the expensive metropolitan areas are largely attributable to higher housing costs (Figure 8).
This conclusion is supported by the analysis of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in its recent report, Under Pressure: The Squeezed Middle-Class. OECD finds that the middle-class faces ever rising costs relative to incomes and that its survival is threatened. Again, the cost of housing is the issue. According to OECD, “Housing has been the main driver of rising middle-class expenditure.” Further, OECD notes that that the largest housing cost increases are in the costs of ownership, rather than rents.
The middle class used to be an aspiration. For many generations it meant the assurance of living in a comfortable house and affording a rewarding lifestyle, thanks to a stable job with career opportunities. It was also a basis from which families aspired to an even better future for their children. At the macro level, the presence of a strong and prosperous middle class supports healthy economies and societies. Through their consumption, investment in education, health, and housing, their support for good quality public services, their intolerance of corruption, and their trust in others and in democratic institutions they are the very foundations of inclusive growth. However, there are now signs that this bedrock of our democracies and economic growth is not as stable as in the past.
The report further noted that households of the millennial generation are being “squeezed out of the ranks of the middle class” in advanced economies around the world.OECD expresses concern that “there are now signs that this bedrock of our democracies and economic growth is not as stable as in the past.”
Adult Children to be Less Affluent than Parents
An important characteristic of the historic transition to middle-income affluence has been that children have generally had higher incomes than their parents. In his The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, Harvard University economist Benjamin Friedman expresses the issue:
…what matters most is not so much how people’s incomes and living standards compare to the year before or even the year before that but whether the average citizen can see the evidence of progress over the last decade or even over the last generation: whether people have a sense of getting ahead compared to how their parents live, and whether their experience gives them confidence that their children will do even better.
Yet, consistent with OECD’s findings, there are indications that this is no longer the case in (at least) the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and elsewhere. A recent United Kingdom study indicates that millennials will be the first generation to be worse off than their parents since the 1800s.
National economies have already been injured. In talking about his nation’s housing affordability problem, New Zealand’s Minister of Urban Development Phil Twyford referred to “the consequences of this market dysfunction have had a harmful systemic effect on the health of our urban economies.” Similar points have been made on the consequences of restrictive land use regulation on national economies and inequality, such as by Herkenhoff, Ohanian and Prescott (2017), and Hseih and Moretti (2015) as well as by La Cava (2016).
Facilitating better standards of living should constitute the principal domestic policy priority. This requires urban policy that focuses on “people rather than places,” as Paul C. Cheshire, Max Nathan and Henry G. Overman of the London School of Economics have posited. Planning requirements that undermine prosperity need to be eliminated. It took millennia to create the incomparably broad prosperity of the modern middle-class. Where a prosperous middle-class remains it is worth preserving and where it has been lost it should be restored.
16th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.
Note 1: The Introduction, “Focus on Singapore,” describes that nation’s more than half-century commitment to ensuring middle-income housing affordability. The lesson of Singapore for the world is not so much the intricacies of its housing market design. Rather, it is that Singapore pro-actively and successfully prioritized affordable home ownership for its citizens, and developed means to accomplish that objective based upon its unique conditions.
Note 2: The Demographia Survey summarizes data from a report by The Institute for Urban Economics (IUE) in Moscow Housing affordability in the major Russian metropolitan areas:3rd quarter 2019. IUE finds that two of the 17 metropolitan areas have Median Multiples that are seriously unaffordable, three that are moderately unaffordable and 12 that are affordable. The median market has a Median Multiple of 2.6. Moscow, now Europe’s largest metropolitan area with 17 million population, has a Median Multiple of 4.2."
You Think Trump’s a Danger to Democracy? Get a Load of Bloomberg.
We will have a better idea by summer, and if he wins, in November. If he does win, liberty will be dead, and we will begin the march into the long night of totalitarian tyranny.
Big Tech's Hypocritical Wokeness May Soon Backfire | Newgeography.com
"Not long ago, in our very same galaxy, the high-tech elite seemed somewhat like the Jedis of the modern era. Sure, they were making gobs of money, but they were also “changing the world” for the better.
Even demonstrators against capitalism revered them; when Steve Jobs died in 2011, the protesters at Occupied Wall Street mourned his passing.
Increasingly, Americans no longer regard our tech oligarchs as modern folk heroes; today companies including Google, Apple and Facebook are suffering huge drops in their reputations among the public.
Social justice, for some
The tech oligarchs make a big show of their social “wokeness.” They play up on gender issues, despite a wicked record of sexual harassment at companies like Google and across the “bro culture” of the male-dominated valley.
Worse still are issues of class. The Bay Area, as CityLab put it, has devolved into “a region of segregated innovation” where the rich wax, the middle class declines and the poor suffer increasingly unshakeable poverty. Over the past decades wages for African Americans and Latinos in Silicon Valley have fallen during the boom while much of the work, up to 40 percent, has gone to temporary immigrant workers, the modern-day equivalent of indentured servants.
Of course, the oligarchs rely on immigrants to work as low-wage janitors, dog walkers and restaurant workers essential to their high-amenity economy. Not surprisingly they have been among the fiercest critics of President Trump’s immigration policies. This fits into their image, cultivated, for example, by Jeff Bezos mouthpiece The Washington Post, as principled defenders of democracy and human rights against the would-be dictator in the White House.
Yet these pronouncements obscure remarkable hypocrisy. Time, owned by oligarch Marc Benioff, rejected its own readers’ poll, which favored making the Hong Kong protesters “person of the year,” and instead gave the honor to Greta Thunberg. This will bolster the Salesforce.com founder’s green bona fides but also protects the company’s growing presence in China. It seems there’s no conflict between advocating wokeness in America while supporting repression in China. If tech-rich Taiwan, which just voted strongly against pro-mainland candidates, ever thought it could look to Silicon Valley for support, they should look again."
Amazingly, the new totalitarians are willing to lie clearly and openly. These people have created new serfdom in neo-feudal California, Oregon, and elsewhere and they slander President Trump, who has been breaking down the walls of the new serfdom through lower unemployment and higher wages for lower and working-class people. Where the new totalitarians rule Blacks, Hispanics, and lower-wage workers toil under exorbitant housing costs and inflated costs of living. The lives of the new serfs are hardscrabble and unpleasant. At the same time, these new totalitarians crow about the policies they want, which will make the lives of the lower-income, the Blacks, and the Hispanics better. Oh, piss off! If you want the lives of these people to be better, stop demanding policies like urban growth boundaries, which make their lives demonstrably more expensive and worse. This is not difficult.
More importantly, stop vilifying the President who is making the lives of these people better, demonstrably.
This goes beyond "accidental" or "unintentional" it is an intentional policy designed to create and enslave the masses. The new totalitarians want to rule you, to make all of us serfs in their new feudal hell. The design is to make you an appurtenance to the land, which they own, so you become mere property.
So, where does Kotkin think this is all going?
"Despite an increasingly large lobbying and public relations effort, the oligarchs are in danger of squandering their once near universal political support. Some 70 percent of Americans, notes a recent Pew study, believe social media platforms “censor political views.” In California, just over the past year, the percentage of voters thinking tech firms need to be more heavily regulated has been rising to over 70 percent in both the Bay Area and Southern California.
Progressive clothing no longer protects them from populist fire. Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have spoken against the oligarchs’ quasi-monopoly status as well as the poor treatment of low-end workers in Apple’s Chinese sweatshops, something referenced by Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes, or Amazon’s warehouses here at home.
The yawning gap between the tech elite and the worker bees has helped foster growing socialist and union movements within these companies, and not just at warehouses.
Tech workers may be well paid, but they have no bargaining power, and their higher salaries are largely swallowed by high housing prices and taxes. They act increasingly as high-tech proletarians, anxious to throw down their own bosses by contributing most to populists like Sanders and Warren.
Given these pressures, the tech firms may just dig in their heels. After all, they are well on their way to buying most of the major publications in the country, and gaining control of the culture industries as well. Ultimately the oligarchs must hope that the masses do not defect to the rebel alliance before their rule becomes so entrenched it cannot be reasonably challenged."
Well, it is difficult to not agree with this, but I don't think investing in the dying media will be a lifeline, more likely the rope to an anchor. Hold tight; it is a long way to the bottom!
Tech companies, which are not standing on a platform of invasion of privacy, theft of privacy, censorship, and other draconian policies, could survive the coming blowback. That means Apple, as far as I can see. But the social media companies, Google, and others are probably in their last years on the S&P 500. Companies on the S&P last about 30 years, the progressives believe these companies are eternal, but they last only one-third of the average long human life of 80+ years.
It is becoming quite clear that we are at the edge of a great change in the American society, the economy, the culture, the economic model, as well as how we organize business and government, how we protect individuals privacy, and who owns our selves, our work, our intellectual property, and much more.
The United States organized the revitalization and renewal of the US economy, the European economy, the Japanese economy, worldwide international relations, the creation and implementation of the international financial institutions, fought the Cold War to a win, destroyed the Soviet Union, belled the Chinese Communist Party, and shrunk worldwide poverty rates from nearly 60% of the world's population to 10% between the end of WWII and today. We laid the essential groundwork for all of this in the first 10-15 years after WWII. I expect we will do the same this time after we resolve the current crisis stemming from the Culture Wars. The change when it comes will be fast and furious.
As I have oft said, every 80 years, there is a battle between liberty and totalitarianism. This has been the historic cycle going back into antiquity. I do not expect it to resolve anytime soon. The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy - What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny
While I expect the forces of liberty to win, that should not be taken for granted. If they lose, it will bring a new dark age with decades or centuries-long devolution back into new feudalism. If the forces of liberty win, we should see the next step towards a significantly better life for not just we humans but all life on Earth.
The question is, will we be enamored of the bauble of socialism with its wide smooth road into serfdom, and hell? Or, will we take the more difficult but more rewarding path to further individual liberty, more personal responsibility, based in republican constitutional governance, free-market economics, property rights, the right to pursue personal happiness, reformed religions?
An election looms this fall, choose wisely.
Donald at Davos: Trump teaches a lesson to the crybabies back home | Spectator USA
"The president also had some advice for the crybabies and selfish children who disdain to be pleased. Cheerfulness is better than pouting, he noted, recommending that we ‘reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse.’
‘They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune-tellers…they predicted an overpopulation crisis in the 1960s, mass starvation in the 1970s, and an end of oil in the 1990s. These alarmists always demand the same thing: absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives. We will never let radical socialists destroy our economy, wreck our country, or eradicate our liberty. America will always be the proud, strong and unyielding bastion of freedom.’
All that will be on the test, class, so take careful notes.
A lot of the president’s speech at Davos was a review for that test: what happened over the past three years. The nearly 200 federal judges confirmed, the two Supreme Court Justices, the astonishing performance of the stock market, and hence of the retirement plans of ordinary Americans, the tax cuts and reforms of the regulatory environment and so on.
The second big announcement in the president’s speech concerned the future. We can expect great things from the new economic deal with Mexico and Canada and the evolving deal with China. We can also expect great things from an impending deal with the United Kingdom, who again, finally, has a playground to call its own."
Watch the video either before or after reading this piece it is necessary to understand the context of the story.
Peterson tells an interesting variation on the story of Osiris, Set, Nephthys, Isis, and Horace. Here, Trump is Horace. Truth, justice, and the American Way are Osiris. Set is progressivism (but could also be globalism, internationalism, or other similar ideas). Isis is the chaos we find ourselves in here at the end of the Culture Wars.
Essentially, Osiris represents the now ancient American culture, which imbues America with what makes its people great. Osiris/American culture, when young, was dynamic, forward-thinking, and capable, but now he is old and willfully blind to the changes which have riven the culture. Set/progressives are willful, malevolent, and angry that the now ancient American culture remains in power over the people. Set/progressives seek to destroy Osiris/American culture, so Set/progressives can usurp the power the American culture exerts with a new culture that will transfer power to Set/progressives.
The people who most define the old American culture/Osiris are middle/average Americans who live in the heartlands. They misunderstood that the progressives wanted totalitarian control over the people, or how powerful their message was to the dilettantes, wastrels, and disaffected here at the end of the Culture Wars.
Can anyone argue that the Democratic Party, at least at the federal legislative level, is filled with old dead zombies shambling about moaning of long dead and forgotten socialist policies that would only bring back new feudalism?
Can anyone argue that progressives have chopped up American culture and family in an attempt to replace it with new malevolent and ugly simulacra of culture and family?
The attacks on American culture and family have allowed the rise of chaos and conflict. This chaos is represented by Isis in the Egyptian myth. Today chaos is driven by the progressives attempts to destroy the old American culture and family and replace it with new but malevolent and ugly simulacra.
We find ourselves today in the midst of the chaos just as we have since the beginning of the modern Culture Wars back around the year 1990. Those culture wars should have ended back about the time Obama was elected, but he was an incompetent and incapable President who did not understand his job, or how to go about reconnecting the pieces of the old American culture and family with necessary new changes to move them revitalized and rejuvenated into the future. Obama dropped the ball, not just in America but throughout the world, and in every conceivable way. Americans chose poorly in 2007.
Trump is a creature of the old order, the old American Way, yet he is also an agent for chaos, change, revitalization, renewal, and rejuvenation. The most common thing I hear about Trump from both parties, progressives, Never-Trumpers, and supporters, is that he is connected to middle Americans and an agent of chaos. Trump is the child of or the synthesis of the old order, and the chaos created by the malevolent progressives, and it is through this synthesis that Trump is finding a way forward. Only the child of chaos could stride through the chaos whipping around us with confidence and surefootedness.
Trump is not a politician, he grew up and matured outside of the political realm. He understands the old order but is not blinded by it, and while he has seen the malevolent and ugly new order, he is not in a glamour because of it.
Trump is now locked in combat with Set/progressives for the ultimate direction of the United States of America, and of the direction of the entire world. Whoever wins this battle will have the ability and power to lay the groundwork and the cornerstone for the cultural future of the USA and the rest of the world. This is why the progressives, China, Russia, and the EU are so animated about Trump. Trump represents an existential threat to the corrupt, whether it be the corruption driven by the progressive movement here in the USA or corruption elsewhere in the world. This is why the parties to this battle constantly slander Trump with allegations of corruption, they are projecting their faults and failings onto Trump.
Impeachment is the Set/progressives attempt to destroy Trump, but like the Egyptian story, Trump will only lose an eye in this battle, while set/progressives will lose the battle. They will not be destroyed but only banished to the ends of the realm. The stories of Adam and Eve, and Cain and Able explain why malevolence and evil cannot be destroyed but only banished.
The progressives will go back and lick their wounds and begin building new malevolent totalitarianism, which they will, in 80 years, use to attempt to once again take power over the people.
Trump is the person who has been able to rise to the top of every dominance hierarchy he has encountered, real estate in New York, gambling casinos, television, entertainment, Presidential politics. Trump's vision, his comfort in chaos, and his ability to understand the old American culture afford him a unique place from which to see the way forward in the new direction for the USA and the world.
Hang on this ride is gonna be wild.
Now that the Iranian General has gone poof, maybe it would be good to revisit Trump the Jacksonian!
The Jacksonian Revolt - by Walter Russell Mead
The Jacksonian Revolt
Walter Russell Mead
For the first time in 70 years, the American people have elected a president who disparages the policies, ideas, and institutions at the heart of postwar U.S. foreign policy. No one knows how the foreign policy of the Trump administration will take shape, or how the new president’s priorities and preferences will shift as he encounters the torrent of events and crises ahead. But not since Franklin Roosevelt’s administration has U.S. foreign policy witnessed debates this fundamental.
Since World War II, U.S. grand strategy has been shaped by two major schools of thought, both focused on achieving a stable international system with the United States at the center. Hamiltonians believed that it was in the American interest for the United States to replace the United Kingdom as “the gyroscope of world order,” in the words of President Woodrow Wilson’s adviser Edward House during World War I, putting the financial and security architecture in place for a reviving global economy after World War II—something that would both contain the Soviet Union and advance U.S. interests. When the Soviet Union fell, Hamiltonians responded by doubling down on the creation of a global liberal order, understood primarily in economic terms.
Wilsonians, meanwhile, also believed that the creation of a global liberal order was a vital U.S. interest, but they conceived of it in terms of values rather than economics. Seeing corrupt and authoritarian regimes abroad as a leading cause of conflict and violence, Wilsonians sought peace through the promotion of human rights, democratic governance, and the rule of law. In the later stages of the Cold War, one branch of this camp, liberal institutionalists, focused on the promotion of international institutions and ever-closer global integration, while another branch, neoconservatives, believed that a liberal agenda could best be advanced through Washington’s unilateral efforts (or in voluntary conjunction with like-minded partners).
The disputes between and among these factions were intense and consequential, but they took place within a common commitment to a common project of global order. As that project came under increasing strain in recent decades, however, the unquestioned grip of the globalists on U.S. foreign policy thinking began to loosen. More nationalist, less globally minded voices began to be heard, and a public increasingly disenchanted with what it saw as the costly failures the global order-building project began to challenge what the foreign policy establishment was preaching. The Jeffersonian and Jacksonian schools of thought, prominent before World War II but out of favor during the heyday of the liberal order, have come back with a vengeance.
Jeffersonians, including today’s so-called realists, argue that reducing the United States’ global profile would reduce the costs and risks of foreign policy. They seek to define U.S. interests narrowly and advance them in the safest and most economical ways. Libertarians take this proposition to its limits and find allies among many on the left who oppose interventionism, want to cut military spending, and favor redeploying the government’s efforts and resources at home. Both Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas seemed to think that they could surf the rising tide of Jeffersonian thinking during the Republican presidential primary. But Donald Trump sensed something that his political rivals failed to grasp: that the truly surging force in American politics wasn’t Jeffersonian minimalism. It was Jacksonian populist nationalism.
IDENTITY POLITICS BITE BACK
The distinctively American populism Trump espouses is rooted in the thought and culture of the country’s first populist president, Andrew Jackson. For Jacksonians—who formed the core of Trump’s passionately supportive base—the United States is not a political entity created and defined by a set of intellectual propositions rooted in the Enlightenment and oriented toward the fulfillment of a universal mission. Rather, it is the nation-state of the American people, and its chief business lies at home. Jacksonians see American exceptionalism not as a function of the universal appeal of American ideas, or even as a function of a unique American vocation to transform the world, but rather as rooted in the country’s singular commitment to the equality and dignity of individual American citizens. The role of the U.S. government, Jacksonians believe, is to fulfill the country’s destiny by looking after the physical security and economic well-being of the American people in their national home—and to do that while interfering as little as possible with the individual freedom that makes the country unique.
Jacksonian populism is only intermittently concerned with foreign policy, and indeed it is only intermittently engaged with politics more generally. It took a particular combination of forces and trends to mobilize it this election cycle, and most of those were domestically focused. In seeking to explain the Jacksonian surge, commentators have looked to factors such as wage stagnation, the loss of good jobs for unskilled workers, the hollowing out of civic life, a rise in drug use—conditions many associate with life in blighted inner cities that have spread across much of the country. But this is a partial and incomplete view. Identity and culture have historically played a major role in American politics, and 2016 was no exception. Jacksonian America felt itself to be under siege, with its values under attack and its future under threat. Trump—flawed as many Jacksonians themselves believed him to be—seemed the only candidate willing to help fight for its survival.
Not since Franklin Roosevelt’s administration has U.S. foreign policy witnessed debates this fundamental.
For Jacksonian America, certain events galvanize intense interest and political engagement, however brief. One of these is war; when an enemy attacks, Jacksonians spring to the country’s defense. The most powerful driver of Jacksonian political engagement in domestic politics, similarly, is the perception that Jacksonians are being attacked by internal enemies, such as an elite cabal or immigrants from different backgrounds. Jacksonians worry about the U.S. government being taken over by malevolent forces bent on transforming the United States’ essential character. They are not obsessed with corruption, seeing it as an ineradicable part of politics. But they care deeply about what they see as perversion—when politicians try to use the government to oppress the people rather than protect them. And that is what many Jacksonians came to feel was happening in recent years, with powerful forces in the American elite, including the political establishments of both major parties, in cahoots against them.
Many Jacksonians came to believe that the American establishment was no longer reliably patriotic, with “patriotism” defined as an instinctive loyalty to the well-being and values of Jacksonian America. And they were not wholly wrong, by their lights. Many Americans with cosmopolitan sympathies see their main ethical imperative as working for the betterment of humanity in general. Jacksonians locate their moral community closer to home, in fellow citizens who share a common national bond. If the cosmopolitans see Jacksonians as backward and chauvinistic, Jacksonians return the favor by seeing the cosmopolitan elite as near treasonous—people who think it is morally questionable to put their own country, and its citizens, first.
Jacksonian distrust of elite patriotism has been increased by the country’s selective embrace of identity politics in recent decades. The contemporary American scene is filled with civic, political, and academic movements celebrating various ethnic, racial, gender, and religious identities. Elites have gradually welcomed demands for cultural recognition by African Americans, Hispanics, women, the lgbtq community, Native Americans, Muslim Americans. Yet the situation is more complex for most Jacksonians, who don’t see themselves as fitting neatly into any of those categories.
Whites who organize around their specific European ethnic roots can do so with little pushback; Italian Americans and Irish Americans, for example, have long and storied traditions in the parade of American identity groups. But increasingly, those older ethnic identities have faded, and there are taboos against claiming a generic European American or white identity. Many white Americans thus find themselves in a society that talks constantly about the importance of identity, that values ethnic authenticity, that offers economic benefits and social advantages based on identity—for everybody but them. For Americans of mixed European background or for the millions who think of themselves simply as American, there are few acceptable ways to celebrate or even connect with one’s heritage.
Jacksonians see American exceptionalism not as a function of the universal appeal of American ideas, but as rooted in the country’s singular commitment to the equality and dignity of individual American citizens. There are many reasons for this, rooted in a complex process of intellectual reflection over U.S. history, but the reasons don’t necessarily make intuitive sense to unemployed former factory workers and their families. The growing resistance among many white voters to what they call “political correctness” and a growing willingness to articulate their own sense of group identity can sometimes reflect racism, but they need not always do so. People constantly told that they are racist for thinking in positive terms about what they see as their identity, however, may decide that racist is what they are, and that they might as well make the best of it. The rise of the so-called alt-right is at least partly rooted in this dynamic.
The emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement and the scattered, sometimes violent expressions of anti-police sentiment displayed in recent years compounded the Jacksonians’ sense of cultural alienation, and again, not simply because of race. Jacksonians instinctively support the police, just as they instinctively support the military. Those on the frontlines protecting society sometimes make mistakes, in this view, but mistakes are inevitable in the heat of combat, or in the face of crime. It is unfair and even immoral, many Jacksonians believe, to ask soldiers or police officers to put their lives on the line and face great risks and stress, only to have their choices second-guessed by armchair critics. Protests that many Americans saw as a quest for justice, therefore, often struck Jacksonians as attacks on law enforcement and public order.
Gun control and immigration were two other issues that crystallized the perception among many voters that the political establishments of both parties had grown hostile to core national values. Non-Jacksonians often find it difficult to grasp the depth of the feelings these issues stir up and how proposals for gun control and immigration reform reinforce suspicions about elite control and cosmopolitanism.
The right to bear arms plays a unique and hallowed role in Jacksonian political culture, and many Jacksonians consider the Second Amendment to be the most important in the Constitution. These Americans see the right of revolution, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, as the last resort of a free people to defend themselves against tyranny—and see that right as unenforceable without the possibility of bearing arms. They regard a family’s right to protect itself without reliance on the state, meanwhile, as not just a hypothetical ideal but a potential practical necessity—and something that elites don’t care about or even actively oppose. (Jacksonians have become increasingly concerned that Democrats and centrist Republicans will try to disarm them, which is one reason why mass shootings and subsequent calls for gun control spur spikes in gun sales, even as crime more generally has fallen.)
As for immigration, here, too, most non-Jacksonians misread the source and nature of Jacksonian concern. There has been much discussion about the impact of immigration on the wages of low-skilled workers and some talk about xenophobia and Islamophobia. But Jacksonians in 2016 saw immigration as part of a deliberate and conscious attempt to marginalize them in their own country. Hopeful talk among Democrats about an “emerging Democratic majority” based on a secular decline in the percentage of the voting population that is white was heard in Jacksonian America as support for a deliberate transformation of American demographics. When Jacksonians hear elites’ strong support for high levels of immigration and their seeming lack of concern about illegal immigration, they do not immediately think of their pocketbooks. They see an elite out to banish them from power—politically, culturally, demographically. The recent spate of dramatic random terrorist attacks, finally, fused the immigration and personal security issues into a single toxic whole.
In short, in November, many Americans voted their lack of confidence—not in a particular party but in the governing classes more generally and their associated global cosmopolitan ideology. Many Trump voters were less concerned with pushing a specific program than with stopping what appeared to be the inexorable movement of their country toward catastrophe.
THE ROAD AHEAD
What all of this means for U.S. foreign policy remains to be seen. Many previous presidents have had to revise their ideas substantially after reaching the Oval Office; Trump may be no exception. Nor is it clear just what the results would be of trying to put his unorthodox policies into practice. (Jacksonians can become disappointed with failure and turn away from even former heroes they once embraced; this happened to President George W. Bush, and it could happen to Trump, too.)
At the moment, Jacksonians are skeptical about the United States’ policy of global engagement and liberal order building—but more from a lack of trust in the people shaping foreign policy than from a desire for a specific alternative vision. They oppose recent trade agreements not because they understand the details and consequences of those extremely complex agreements’ terms but because they have come to believe that the negotiators of those agreements did not necessarily have the United States’ interests at heart. Most Jacksonians are not foreign policy experts and do not ever expect to become experts. For them, leadership is necessarily a matter of trust. If they believe in a leader or a political movement, they are prepared to accept policies that seem counter-intuitive and difficult.
They no longer have such trust in the American establishment, and unless and until it can be restored, they will keep Washington on a short leash. To paraphrase what the neoconservative intellectual Irving Kristol wrote about Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1952, there is one thing that Jacksonians know about Trump—that he is unequivocally on their side. About their country’s elites, they feel they know no such thing. And their concerns are not all illegitimate, for the United States’ global order-building project is hardly flourishing.
The right to bear arms plays a unique and hallowed role in Jacksonian political culture.
Over the past quarter century, Western policymakers became infatuated with some dangerously oversimplified ideas. They believed capitalism had been tamed and would no longer generate economic, social, or political upheavals. They felt that illiberal ideologies and political emotions had been left in the historical dustbin and were believed only by “bitter” losers—people who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them . . . as a way to explain their frustrations,” as Barack Obama famously put it in 2008. Time and the normal processes of history would solve the problem; constructing a liberal world order was simply a matter of working out the details.
Given such views, many recent developments—from the 9/11 attacks and the war on terrorism to the financial crisis to the recent surge of angry nationalist populism on both sides of the Atlantic—came as a rude surprise. It is increasingly clear that globalization and automation have helped break up the socioeconomic model that undergirded postwar prosperity and domestic social peace, and that the next stage of capitalist development will challenge the very foundations of both the global liberal order and many of its national pillars.
In this new world disorder, the power of identity politics can no longer be denied. Western elites believed that in the twenty-first century, cosmopolitanism and globalism would triumph over atavism and tribal loyalties. They failed to understand the deep roots of identity politics in the human psyche and the necessity for those roots to find political expression in both foreign and domestic policy arenas. And they failed to understand that the very forces of economic and social development that cosmopolitanism and globalization fostered would generate turbulence and eventually resistance, as Gemeinschaft (community) fought back against the onrushing Gesellschaft (market society), in the classic terms sociologists favored a century ago.
The challenge for international politics in the days ahead is therefore less to complete the task of liberal world order building along conventional lines than to find a way to stop the liberal order’s erosion and reground the global system on a more sustainable basis. International order needs to rest not just on elite consensus and balances of power and policy but also on the free choices of national communities—communities that need to feel protected from the outside world as much as they want to benefit from engaging with it.