America Has An Oedipus Complex

As in Sophocles’s tragedy Oedipus Rex, we are witnessing a generational drama in which inheritors kill their proverbial father to marry their mother, in this case Mother Earth. The psychology behind this pattern is above my pay grade, but many of the richest people on the planet, and their heirs, now seem anxious to disparage the economic system that created their fortunes. With few exceptions, the new rich, and particularly their children and ex-wives, embrace a racial, gender and environmental agenda that, while undermining merit and economic growth, still leaves them on top of the heap.

Read more

Why Losing the Midterms Would Be Good for the GOP

In his appraisal of the war between Iraq and Iran, Henry Kissinger famously remarked that “it’s a pity both sides can’t lose.” Increasingly that’s how the upcoming battle between the Trumpian GOP and the woke Democrats seems to many Americans, whose faith the political system, notes Gallup, is at a nadir. Only 7%, for example, express a great deal of confidence in Congress and barely a quarter in the Presidency.

A solid majority of Americans dislike both parties. No surprise here as they continue to alienate all voters outside their base constituency. Under such conditions, a victory by either will simply serve to confirm their political direction ever further from the mainstream and set the conditions for a thumping in 2024.

Instead, it may also be better for each party to take a hit this November. Losing, it turns out, can be the precondition for winning big. Republicans, for example, took to heart the lessons of the Goldwater rout in 1964 and embraced a more moderate, pragmatic Richard Nixon who then won two consecutive elections. Democrats did the same after the 1972 McGovern disaster, shifting closer to the center and winning big with the original New Democrat, Bill Clinton.

Big victories, sadly, don’t teach anything but hubris. Many Republicans would take a big win — meaning control of the Senate and a big House majority — as a vindication for both their policy agenda and their insane Duce, Donald Trump. Yet the elevation of the widely unpopular Trump, with barely 40% support, may be the best weapon the Democrats have, and is perhaps the one candidate that even the hapless Joe Biden, or even the pathetically ill-suited Kamala Harris, could possibly beat.

A big GOP gain would reinforce their embrace of issues like the 2020 election “steal” or ratcheting up controls on abortion. These are political disasters. The vast majority of Americans favor fairly liberal abortion laws, notes Gallup, with barely one in five Americans supporting a total ban, far less than the one-third who favor no restrictions. Similarly, although most Republicans back the Trump claim, a strong majority if voters feel the 2020 elections were not stolen.

Democrats may face a similar problem if they do better than expected this November, as is seen as likely even among conservatives. The party press — which includes most of the legacy and social media — is all excited about Biden’s new climate and tax bill, as well as the continuing legal travails of Trump. Keeping control of the Senate, with the help of some poorly chosen Trump backed candidates, and keeping losses in the House maybe minimal will be celebrated everywhere from CNN to the New York Times and The Washington Post as a great victory over Trumpian neo-fascism.

Read the rest of this piece at UnHerd.


Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Homepage photo: Elvert Barnes via Flickr under CC 2.0 License.

The Democrats’ New Climate Bill Abandons Green Zealotry

The Senate has passed the Democrats’ mega climate, health care and taxation bill along party lines and after much griping from Republicans. “The Green New Deal Democrats are coming straight after American natural gas with huge tax hikes,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said of the bill last week. “The result will be higher electricity bills, higher heating costs, less exporting to our European allies.”

Read more

Why Suburbia Will Decide the Future

Welcome to the future of American politics. The US population is changing in major ways that will likely alter the balance in politics and economics to the advantage of Republican-leaning red states, as well as suburbs and exurbs across the country.

Read more

The Biggest Threat to the CHIPS Act? The Green Left

The recent passage of the CHIPS act, a $280 billion dollar subsidy, may prove a giant boondoggle. But it also reflects a critical shift in US economic policy away from neoliberal free trade policies to a more nationalistic industrial policy.

This trend may have started with President Trump, but his successor — along with leaders of both parties — have moved in this direction too. The earlier passage of The BuyAmerican.gov Act, the Make PPE in America Act, and the banning of the importation of Chinese products made with forced labour in Xinjiang, reflect this new dynamic.

Read more

Green Dreams, Inflationary Realities

Global policy and politics, particularly in the high-income world, have been obsessed with dreams of a green economy. Imposing ever-more rigid methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as the way to “save the planet” is almost unchallenged in the media, academia, and corporate boardrooms of the developed world. The results on the ground have been less convincing, as the price of everything—from energy and food to construction costs—rises to unsustainable levels Read more

Gavin Newsom Won’t Save the Democrats

Burdened with a decomposing President and a clearly overmatched Vice President, the Democrats are on the hunt for a saviour. For many in the party, Gavin Newsom, the 54-year-old perfectly coiffed Governor of California, seems like the perfect solution. No doubt, given his recent trolling of Florida’s Republican frontrunner Ron DeSantis, he feels the same.

Read more

Why Millennials Are Dropping Out

With inflation soaring, trust in governments plummeting, and the global economy teetering on the brink of collapse, one might expect to see the masses out in the streets, calling for the heads of their rulers. But instead of rage and rebellion, we mostly see apathy. Rather than getting radicalised, people are dropping out.

Read more

The Cost of Biden’s Racialism

Joe Biden may have once bragged about his cooperative relations with segregationists, but he still arguably owes more to African-American leadership and voters than any politician in recent history. After all, it was black voters who bequeathed him the two critical victories in South Carolina and Georgia that led to his nomination in 2020. Perhaps that’s why he promised in his inaugural address to focus on the “sting of systemic racism” and fight encroaching “white supremacy.”

Read more

Trump is the Democrats’ Secret Weapon

There is no question that the Democrats are going overboard on the staged theatrics surrounding the horrific events of January 6th. This is a clear attempt by the Party to revive their electoral prospects this autumn, but they may well end up undermining the only man who can save them: Donald Trump.

The hearings already face diminished ratings. After the first day, audience figures fell by 50% and seem unlikely to persuade most fair-minded people that January 6th was anything like the ‘insurrection’ it’s painted as. What emerges instead is a confirmation of mass stupidity by addled MAGA activists set in motion by a cheerleading Chief Executive.

Trump certainly bears his share of the blame for January 6th but not as an organiser of a coordinated rebellion in the historic sense. A coup? Without guns and no military or police support? Mussolini, he is not. January 6th lacked the focus and planning of the March on Rome and there’s certainly nothing of the organised violence that facilitated the Nazi rise to power. Instead, Trump comes off as a hopeless narcissist unwilling to accept his loss even when presented with the facts by his most reliable advisors.

What is catching up with Trump is not his fascist leanings but his pathetic character as an overaged Baby Huey. Progressives and Democrats revel in the idea that the GOP is now a tool of Trump as the unassailable il duce. But in reality, the ex-President is not getting stronger, but weaker. His poll numbers, even among Republicans, have weakened, as more members claim to identify with their party rather than its titular leader. Trump does not retain the respect and loyalty that Ronald Reagan, for example, maintained among a broad part of the party.

Trump’s paranoid, personal style — so evident in the hearings — is no longer unchallenged inside the party. This year his record of endorsements, particularly in hotly contested races, is mediocre. His loss in Georgia, against state officials he desperately wished to topple, was particularly revealing. Last week in South Carolina, he was only partially successful in his drive to expel “disloyal” house members. There are even signs that he may have lost the support of the Murdoch empire.

This is not to say that Trump might not win the GOP nomination, which would be a disaster for the party and country. Even though Trump still leads the field, it’s likely much of the party would favour figures like former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida’s Ron DeSantis or South Carolina’s Tim Scott or Nicky Haley. For many, a Trumpista policy agenda without the diversions of Trumpian insanity may prove appealing.

As for the rest of us, it’s clear that we are fed up with both of the flawed alter cockers who have run this country into the ground. Over 70% of Americans would prefer that neither one runs again.

But we may be forced to accept this choice. If as in 2016 the opposition to him is divided, Trump can skate to victory with 30% of the Republican primary vote. This would give the Democrats a rallying point that they will sorely need, particularly if their likely candidate is an ever more debilitated Joe Biden or the remarkably unappealing Kamala Harris. Indeed, even amid the awful performance of this Administration, Trump polls about even with the likely Democratic candidate.

The hope here is that sentient elements in the Republican Party can stop Trump from ruining what could be a historic opportunity to stop the more extreme progressive agenda. At the same time, the GOP can be recast as the voice of the middle and working class. In this, the Democrats may be helping by placing emphasis on Trump’s personal awfulness. If Trump’s image continues to fade, even to the point of caricature, the GOP may end up thanking Nancy Pelosi for saving their party from itself.

This piece first appeared at UnHerd.


Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Homepage photo: Gage SKidmore via Flickr under CC 2.0 License.