It’s time for more libertarians to join forces with the obstreperous left

What a great weekend. Friendsgiving was Saturday and damn did I need time with my friends.

Over the weekend, FEE published my latest, Global Trade on Trial:

On the campaign trail, Trump threatened to start a trade war on behalf of those working-class men. If he succeeds, it will exacerbate unemployment and poverty. Let’s save the argument over just how racist and misogynistic Trump supporters are just long enough to save the American economy.

At the Detroit Economic Club, Donald Trump threatened Ford Motor executives with a 35% tariff on cars manufactured in Mexico. He’s made renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement part of his first-100-days agenda. Trump has threatened to put a 45% tariff on goods imported from China.

Donald Trump was wrong when he said, during the final debate, that America doesn’t make anything anymore. Manufacturing as a percentage of GPD hasn’t changed since 1960.

What has changed drastically is manufacturing as a percentage of employment, which is down by a third.

And last week they published Why Patriarchy Once Made Economic Sense.

In more important news: Bill Nye Tho wants to know “SOMEONE TELL ME WHY THE FUCK A GROUP OF SQUIDS AIN’T CALLED A SQUAD DAMN SHIT GOT ME HEATED.” If you are also heated, sign the petition that actually exists.

Megan McArdle has some important thoughts about sexism:

So here’s my first thought, in a purely non-work, amateur capacity: Democrats are about to experience the madness that has beset the Republican Party over the last eight years.

Back when I was first blogging as Jane Galt, lo those many years ago, I coined “Jane’s First Law of Politics”: “The devotees of the Party that holds the presidency are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the Party that doesn’t hold the White House are insane.” I have never had cause to revisit this observation.

So when liberals spent years trying to diagnose the unique psychological disease that seemed to have beset the Republican Party–Acute Chronic Racism, or perhaps Psychosomatic Obstructionitis–I have always suspected that the fervent devotion to pointless and often counterproductive obstruction was less a Republican disease than a symptom of a larger structural problem in our politics. As people have geographically sorted themselves into partisan enclaves, partisanship has risen dramatically; the culture war has taken the kind of fierce battles that rocked the country during the civil rights era to all 50 states, rather than concentrating them on a handful of states and cities; and perhaps most importantly, a century of “good government” initiatives, from primary elections to campaign finance reform to anti-earmark legislation, have gutted the parties as a source of political discipline and political deal-making. These weak parties were unable to mount any kind of coherent response to the social media revolution, which allowed candidates and activists to do an end-run around the party professionals who would have stopped them in an earlier era.

The result is a fundamentally broken politics. But that politics is not broken because of something that “Republican elites” did. Liberals have been very fond of arguing that those elites somehow encouraged the growth of these destabilizing influences by not shutting down … well, name your candidate: right-wing talk radio, the tea party, obstructionist forces in Congress, Donald Trump. Liberals are about to find out what those Republicans have long known: they had no power to shut them down. All the tools they might have used had been taken away decades ago, mostly by progressives.

For exactly the same structural forces are at work on the left. Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. Those forces have been masked by Democratic possession of the presidency, which is a unifying force far out of proportion to its actual usefulness. As long as your party holds the White House, you feel like you have a shot at getting things done, and you are willing to cut a great deal of slack to your leadership. Prepare to see Republicans get a lot quieter and more cooperative, and the obstreperous forces on the left to get angrier and more intransigent.

In 2012, in the wake of their presidential loss, Republicans looked at what had happened and concluded that building a coalition that could take the presidency was best done by moderating on immigration in order to try to sweep socially conservative Latinos into the fold. This made a portion of the party base explode. In the wake of this election loss, in which a mainstream candidate tossed the presidency to the candidate with the highest unfavorables we’ve ever seen in a presidential election, professional Democrats are going to want to do a similar analysis. That analysis is almost certainly going to come up with an answer that’s intolerable to large portions of their base: that they need to back off the identity politics and embrace a more old-fashioned national greatness campaign mixed with pocketbook issues.

The activist groups in the base who are most heavily invested in identity politics will (correctly) read this as a decline in their power and status. They will be incandescent. And they will put exactly the same sort of pressure on their politicians that the Tea Party put on Republicans. They will want to see their politicians blocking Trump even if it hurts the party overall, even if it means sacrificing bits of their legislative agenda that they could get done. They will demand costly symbolic acts that function as a repudiation of Trump, and a show of fealty to party interest groups. They will care more about those things than any substantive legislative achievment. I’m not saying they won’t care about legislative achievement, but I suspect that it will be symbolism first, achievement later. Because that’s where our politics is in 2016, on both sides of the aisle. Centrist, process-oriented Democrats will now discover the joys that their counterparts on the right have known for years: of screaming fruitlessly that this sort of thing is hurting the alleged policy goals of the people demanding it, and being told for their troubles, that they’re just DINO sellouts.

I don’t know how we fix this. I don’t know if it can be fixed. But a healthy first step is for center-left folks to stop pointing and laughing at the Republican Party, and issuing faux-solemn, joyously incredulous diagnoses of “the problem with the Republican Party”. The Republican Party doesn’t have a problem. American politics has a problem. And everyone in America is going to have to figure out how to fix it.

It’s time for more libertarians to join forces with the obstreperous left. It’s time to demand free speech absolutism. It’s time for criminal justice reform. It’s time for military non-interventionism. It’s time to slash the police state. It’s time to gut mass surveillance. It’s time to protect whistleblowers and prosecute politicians. It’s time for transparency.

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