Saturday, February 13, 2016

Jacksonian Democracy, Upcoming Political Axis, the 2016 Presidential Election

Point Not Related to Post: Before I begin my blog post, I'd like to apologize for the current ads on my blog page. I'm still trying to figure out how these ads work and I will change the ads to items that I not only approve of, but items I have used, currently use, or items that I would use.

This post will be about the upcoming political axis, the basic foundations of the American political system, and the alignment of the factions within the Republic. This post will be split up into six sections:
1. Introduction
2. Historical Background and How We Got Here
3. Jacksonian Democracy
4. Republican Party Factional Alignment
5. Democratic Party Factional Alignment
6. Conclusion

I touched on the upcoming political axis and the split in the political parties around the financial institutions in my post about the decentralization of money. In a previous posts, I've also discussed how the US is a constitutional republic that's anti-democratic and fundamentally imperial wherein where the elites have a lot of power (see the section about "Liberal Empire" in the link). I've also previously discussed how the democratic institutions in the American Republic were used as a way to increase the flexibility of the system by allowing for transfers of power between groups (usually from the financial/capitalist elites to the people or vice-versa). In this post, I'll be combining all of these historical realities and analytical concept to develop the analytical framework for the system we're heading towards.

This post will primarily be about the individual party alignment given the factions, but in order to do so I'll first need to define faction. Although the elites have a lot of power in the American political system, it ultimately comes down to the number of votes that determine who becomes a Representative or Senator (and President to a lessor degree, as that's done by the electoral college). So the key unit of the American political system (the faction) is composed of a combination between existing elites and the people at large. In other words, a faction is just a way for a group of elites to provide financing/networking for a set of voters with common political interests.

Historical Background and How We Got Here:
In the American political system, each party is composed of roughly 3-5 factions (usually 2-3 major factions and 1-2 smaller factions). Over time, the factional alignment shifts within the political structure as elites and voters come and go. While this basic factional structure--and the party alignment based on the factional structure--of the system stays the same, the power of determining this underlying structure has always been shifting from the elites to the people in various ways. In some periods (ex. the Civil War/Reconstruction/Gilded Age or the Hamiltonian era--even after Hamilton's death--before the development of the Jacksonian system) the elites have a major power base. In other periods, the populace at large holds more power (ex. the Jacksonian Era, the Progressive Era). Over time, this power goes back and forth along this axis, but the fundamental structure of the Republic remains the same.

Since the fall of the USSR and the downfall of the anti-capitalist financial systems, we have essentially lived in a country where the elites have had the most power since the Gilded Age. Inequality, in both income and wealth, is at the highest level its ever been at in American history outside of the Gilded Age or the 1920's or maybe the time period after/during the Hamiltonian system (which I'm not too sure about as Hamilton's system targeted high wages). The level of inequality we're seeing WILL be resolved in one form or another. During the past 40 years, we have seen a MASSIVE increase in the standard of living, in opportunity for those at the bottom who now have access to the same to powerful technology, we have lived in a world where what was previously available to the few has now become available to the many much like what happened in the Gilded Age. Due to the massive innovation, a rise in technology, and a massive increase in opportunity, a very small minority of the population has captured most of these gains (due to the nature of these gains). This system has shown REMARKABLE class mobility (for leftists who argue this, just take a look at where most of the elites in our society came from, and you'll rapidly see that almost all of them are from working or middle class backgrounds), but it has also left many different groups behind and has resulted in a system where those who have shown the daring, the skills, the intelligence, or had the luck on their side benefit massively while other groups have been left behind. So what we have had is a system where the elite have almost all of the power and the populace at large has very little. A correction will be in the books in one form or another.
Note: Income inequality was a factor in causing the Great Depression, but it WAS NOT the primary factor. The biggest reason for the Great Depression was a combination the geopolitical financial policies of Woodrow Wilson and the Democrats towards the rest of the world that left the American financial system holding foreign debts as assets that could never be paid back. Those assets were finally written down by a Republican administration under Herbert Hoover after DECADES of Republicans trying to write down unsustainable debts, including the Harding Administration, which couldn't get authorization from Democrats in Congress to write down debts. Other (more important) reasons than income inequality include the existence of the gold standard, policies by Woodrow Wilson that provided short term credit to people like small farmers so they could maintain their lifestyle--largely via the War Finance Corporation that was created during World War I--that was proving to be unsustainable, and the creation of the Federal Reserve that stabilized short term interest rates for almost 20 years. In American history before the Fed, short term interest rates were never stable and panics were quite common. These regular panics, while creating short term instability, eliminated malinvestment quite regularly. So the Federal Reserve was largely responsible for the Great Depression. In the case of the gold standard, it meant that the debts denominated in US Dollars couldn't be devalued until the Dollar was devalued, which is what happened. Inequality was certainly a factor, but IT WAS NOT the primary factor. If the only issue was inequality, the 1929-1933 fallout would've been no worse than 1873 or the 1970's or maybe slightly worse than 2008.

Anyways, I will now take a slight detour into discussing the impact of Supreme Court decisions in the political system over the past few decades. Basically every single Supreme Court case or every decision by the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of more power to the people instead of to party elites over the past 35-45 years, except for Citizen's United which was ABSOLUTELY AND CLEARLY the correct decision (the only argument against it is "equality"). So what we end up having is a system where the party base is far more influential in the decision of a politician than the party elites. In other words, the individual politicians are moving much further towards the alignment of the party base, which makes them more "extreme". However, the party base is much more energized and politically engaged. In other words, we're headed to a system where the candidates of each party are more representative of its base where the most important thing in the general elections is to bring out the party base.

On top of this, we also have gerrymandered districts wherein the districts are drawn up by state legislatures every 10 years after a census. Basically, the districts are usually (almost always) drawn up by state committees that are essentially chosen by the state legislatures. So what usually happens is that the party controlling the state legislature gets to rig the districts in such a way where their guys get more support through the political system even because they draw districts in such a way where you get more extreme divides. What ends up happening is that the enemy for the established candidate no longer comes from the other political party, but from the established candidate's own party in the primary. So again, we get more "extreme" candidates supported by an energized and politically active base.

Jacksonian Democracy:
Historically speaking, we've seen this kind of a political shift before. The current political system is becoming very much like Jacksonian democracy. What is Jacksonian democracy? It's essentially a quasi-corrupt form of democracy where a certain set of voters with a common interest use some set or group of elites to provide financing for the mobilization of support. The winner of the election uses the political system to reward their buddies with administrative positions in the government. Every time there's a shift in an election, different cronies replace the previous ones. Due to the Supreme Court decisions over the past 35-45 years, this is the kind of system we're heading towards.

Currently, we still have a political axis with remnants of the old system and much of the new system built into it. In the GOP, the shift to the new kind of system is MUCH MORE noticeable than in the Democratic Party, but the shifts are working through the Democrats as well although they're not as pronounced yet. The rise of someone like Bernie Sanders as a serious Presidential candidate or others (to a lesser extent) like Elizabeth Warren or even Barack Obama are due to the rise of this new political axis.

In other words, we get more "extreme" candidates from the wings of the party while the key to winning elections becomes bringing out your vote. So you get a highly engaged and active citizenry, but that citizenry becomes more "extreme" along the political spectrum. Historically, what usually happens is that you get crazy elections where there's so many divisions that Presidential elections run the risk of being thrown to the House of Representatives since there may not be a candidate who can get to 270. You get a sort of "spoils system" where any sort of major shift in office of a politician involves a complete replacing of the entire political and bureaucratic edifice from the exact opposite side of the spectrum. You effectively get shifts between the two poles of the axis instead of compromise for the middle voter.

Republican Party Factional Alignment:
So now, this brings us to the question: what are the alignment of the factions? In the case of the Republican Party, we'll use the Presidential race to enlighten us on some information. We are now down to a list of six candidates running for President: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich. Ben Carson has little money or support and it's only a matter of time before he drops out as he isn't a serious candidate. John Kasich went all out in New Hampshire and has very little money and unless he's able to rally public support very quickly from all sections of the country, he's out. In the case of Jeb Bush, he had raised $156 million as of February 1st, then he spent $26 million in New Hampshire where he finished 4th and due to Jeb's brother being one of the worst Presidents in American history he doesn't have any real chance. So essentially, we're down to three candidates: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio.

Among these three candidates, we also have a new factional grouping for the GOP which is becoming apparent in the House and Senate as well. The major factions are all currently represented in the Presidential election with a candidate. The MAJOR FACTIONS compromising the GOP are:
1. Business (non-financial) Republicans leading the industrial working class (represented by Donald Trump)
2. Energy/commodities(/and some Wall Street) elites leading the Jacksonian class which consists of certain union workers, Protestants, social conservatives (represented by Ted Cruz)
3. Technology/financial/military elites leading the urban-middle to upper-middle class conservatives (represented by Marco Rubio)
Note #2: I'm aware of the fact that Jeb Bush may outlive Marco Rubio, but even if he does, Jeb Bush is representative the past. He IS NOT the future and is just a remnant of an old system where he'll soon be dead in the water as a legitimate representative of an actual faction in the new political axis. To be quite frank, he has no business running in the first place. The LAST THING this country needs is another Bush Presidency.

Also note that the GOP has smaller factions consisting of:
1. Libertarians which aren't led by many elites and have largely thrown their support to the Jacksonians in this Presidential primary
2. "Establishment" Republicans (who used to lead the party about a decade ago, but have now dwindled in size and scope) that're now basically dead in the water and have thrown their support to Rubio or Bush in this Presidential primary

Democratic Party Factional Alignment:
In the Democratic Party, the factional alignment has been slower to shift. It's also important to note that in the Democratic Party, there's also a much greater strength of unity in the whole political system. The current Democratic Party factional alignment is built on two primary factions:
1. Academic/Public sector unions as the leaders of middle class progressives (primarily white liberals)
2. Financial/Wall Street elites leading the urban/suburban middle class workers
3. Political elites leading large minority groups

What I've described is basically the bulk of the current Democratic Party, but this structure could break down in 4-8 years easily. With the rise of people like Trump who are advocating the use of capital and finance in order to invest in inner-cities and develop minority communities, a large portion of minorities could easily flip their support to the business Republicans.

Again, we currently have elements of the old political axis with the rise of a new political axis. So I suspect we'll see strong minority support for Hillary Clinton in the rest of the primary, which is an area where Bernie Sanders has struggled (and something that I don't see changing, but I could be wrong here).

Conclusion/What We Do and do not Know About the Upcoming Axis:
Basically, we know about 60-80% of how the upcoming political system will align, but there's also much we don't know. For example, the classic item we do not know is along what side of the axis do different minorities end up on. If minorities do end up on the Republican side, then we could see a situation where Democrats start campaigning on other issues that push more whites into the Democratic camp. So there are a few doubts as to what factions will remain on which side, and quite frankly, we simply do not know the full facts and cannot predict the future.

As I mentioned above, the entire axis is built on the level of centralization over the financial system. The Republicans are for less centralized government control over finance while the Democrats are for more centralized control over finance. This is THE ONLY unity between the axis. In every other issue ranging from foreign policy and war to many domestic issues like debt or education, there's serious divisions within the parties--although the Democrats are more united than the Republicans.

So what we are really dealing with is heading to the future, but returning to the elements of the past. The United States is starting to head back to what it was in the 19th century. There are serious issues regarding unity in the Republic with LOTS of regional divides both within and between the parties. The politicians are becoming more and more representative of the wings while each side becomes more partisan and the most important part is becoming the ability to bring out the vote, not targeting the middle voter.
Note #2: We ARE NOT in this kind of a system YET. Our current system has elements of the old AND elements of the new. Also note that in the Jacksonian period (although during the time period, franchise was mostly limited to adult white males), voter turnout was quite high. Under the current system, voter turnout is ~50% in the general elections and ~25% in the midterms. I THINK we're starting to see this shift and we're beginning to see younger people become the most politically involved they've been in decades, maybe even a century, but I COULD DEFINITELY be wrong and I may even need to be laughed at for suggesting this.

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