Belmont Club

Have Attempts to Restore the 2016 Status Quo Damaged Our Political DNA?

(Wikipedia)

The impeachment proceedings being prepared by the Democrats in Congress and the Trump administration efforts to portray it as a coup may together produce an allergic reaction more lethal than the disease each professes to cure. To senior Democrat Adam Schiff, the removal of Donald Trump is too important to be left to the 2020 ballot box. “The argument ‘Why don’t you just wait?’ amounts to this: ‘Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election?'”

The current U.S. political crisis, whichever side prevails, raises the question of whether any outsider can ever be legitimately elected again if the candidate must pass the additional test of acceptance by the status quo in Washington. Nor will the old ways escape unscathed if Trump prevails. If Barr or Giuliani prove that the “Deep State” conspired against the president, the consequences are incalculable.

Perhaps the word “emergent” is more apt than “incalculable” because both sides’s efforts are likely to result in outcomes unexpected by either. Instead of going back one screen, the system may find itself in an entirely different URL. One surprise has already occurred: the sudden emergence of Bernie Sanders as one of the frontrunners of the Democratic nomination process. “Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are in the top tier in a Monmouth University poll with 26% and 21%, respectively. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is in third place with 17%.” The New York Times quotes a left-wing activist as saying: “What Bernie Sanders has built — it is not arguable. It’s an exciting and different energy than we’ve seen in the Democratic base.”

Mr. Torres said considering the importance of next year’s election, he wants to support someone who can match the outsider persona of Mr. Trump. In that view, he sees Mr. Sanders’s self-identified socialist label as not an electoral liability but a strength. [emphasis mine]

“How we see it, Senator Sanders very clearly distinguished himself from President Trump on politics and style and behavior,” he said. And while they approve of Ms. Warren, he believes that in order to win in 2020, “we need the biggest distinction possible.”

Kamala Harris is already gone. Elizabeth Warren is fading. But Bernie Sanders? It would be supremely ironic if in order to save the status quo from outsider Trump that Crossfire Hurricane has so destabilized the system it favors the nomination of outsider Bernie. The sheer absurdity of a left-wing Resistance predicated on Russian collusion culminating in a President Sanders is almost too mind-boggling to contemplate. But that is how the law of unforeseeable circumstances works. You don’t get what you expect; you get what you never expected.

A system accident (or normal accident) is an “unanticipated interaction of multiple failures” in a complex system. This complexity can either be of technology or of human organizations, and is frequently both. A system accident can be easy to see in hindsight, but extremely difficult in foresight because there are simply too many action pathways to seriously consider all of them. Charles Perrow first developed these ideas in the mid-1980s. William Langewiesche in the late 1990s wrote, “the control and operation of some of the riskiest technologies require organizations so complex that serious failures are virtually guaranteed to occur.”

Although Joe Biden is still expected to hold Bernie Sanders off at the post, the establishment is clearly worried enough to contemplate the once-unthinkable prospect of a Hillary 2020 as insurance against another outsider challenge. “A new poll of registered Democrats has Hillary Clinton as their top choice for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination — and she’s not even running.” Hillary Clinton herself has mooted the possibility.

Hillary Clinton is “dropping hints” that she is planning to enter the race to be the Democratic presidential candidate to take on Donald Trump in 2020, according to the Daily Telegraph’s James Morrow.

Mrs Clinton has refused to rule herself out of entering the race, telling UK talk show host Graham Norton that she would “have to make up my mind really quickly” if she was going to be a candidate.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tweeted, “if Hillary runs she becomes the William Jennings Bryan of our time. He lost three times: 1896, 1900, 1908. Hillary has it in her to lose a third time. The bitterness from other candidates would be intense.”  Yet there is a kind of inevitability about the destructive process. The establishment has already invested too much money in the restoration of the status quo ante to stop now. That’s the frightening thing: Sanders is unlikely to be the last shock of the season. If the village has to be destroyed in order to save it, what difference does one more canister of napalm make?

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Books:

The Triumph Of Numbers: How Counting Shaped Modern Life, by I. Bernard Cohen. From the pyramids to mortality tables, Galileo to Florence Nightingale, this book explores how numbers have come to assume a leading role in science, government, business and in many other aspects of life. a vibrant history of numbers and the birth of statistics. Cohen shines a new light on familiar figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Charles Dickens, and reveals Florence Nightingale to be a passionate statistician. This is a vibrant history of numbers and the birth of statistics.

Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War, by Charles Bracelen Flood. The first book about the victorious partnership between William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War and the deep friendship that made it possible.

The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium, by Martin Gurri. This book tells the story of how insurgencies, enabled by digital devices and a vast information sphere, have mobilized millions of ordinary people around the world. It also ponders whether the current elite class can bring about a reformation of the democratic process, and whether new organizing principles, adapted to a digital world, can emerge from the present political turbulence.

I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran & Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa, by Charles Brandt. This book is the inspiration for the major motion picture “The Irishman” and is a true crime classic. Frank Sheeran’s confession that he killed Jimmy Hoffa in the manner described in the book is supported by forensic evidence, and solves the Hoffa mystery.

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Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with your friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

Open Curtains by George Spix and Richard Fernandez. Technology represents both unlimited promise and menace. Which transpires depends on whether people can claim ownership over their knowledge or whether human informational capital continues to suffer the Tragedy of the Commons.

The War of the Words, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres

Rebranding Christianity, or why the truth shall make you free

The Three Conjectures, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age

Storming the Castle, why government should get small

No Way In at Amazon Kindle. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.

Storm Over the South China Sea, how China is restarting history in the Pacific.