Reading the news stories about what’s in the new spending bill, it is tempting to get outraged. Even if you are like me and don’t care about the spending, the other stuff tucked into it is outrageous. For example, there is a provision to limit border wall construction to a 33-mile stretch of nowhere. Of course, there is no money for the wall itself, as if it would matter. This means the project is dead, unless Trump goes Pinochet and starts throwing lawmakers out of helicopters. In this area, your vote in 2016 meant nothing. Suckers!
That’s just one thing. In a 1.3 trillion dollar bill that is over 1,300 pages of unreadable government speak, you can be sure there are thousands of “screw you” provisions in the thing. Since the government now uses a special language known only to a handful of monks imprisoned in the capitol, the bill is unreadable. Take a look at the Ceiling Fan Energy Conservation Act and try to understand what it is. The absurdity of it is the only thing that is easy to grasp. The people’s house is wrangling over ceiling fans.
Of course, not a single comma or line break is in any bill without first requiring a bribe to the legislator responsible for slipping it into the bill. The reason there is a such a thing as the Ceiling Fan Energy Conservation Act is the ceiling fan makers bribed a politician to make an alteration to the law that favors them in some way. The Alleviating Stress Test Burdens to Help Investors Act is one of those things that seems like a joke, but sadly, it is a serious effort to repeat the mistakes of the past. The free money spigot is about to open.
The response from the slightly less Progressive chattering classes will be a form “these Republicans are setting themselves up for disaster in the fall.” That’s true, of course. The GOP is looking down the barrel of a wipe out in the fall election. This monstrosity of a spending bill will make it worse, but they don’t care. The reason is the people running the GOP will retain their seats and positions. They will move into slightly smaller offices next year, but that’s just how the game is played. Everyone takes their turn in the small office.
From the perspective of the ruling class, a Democrat House is the ideal solution to their Trump problem. For the remaining two years of his tenure, nothing will make it out of the House that can pass the Senate, and nothing the President wants will pass either house of Congress. Trump will go into his primary against someone like Ben Sasse, financed by globalist money, having nothing to show for his first term in office. The ads showing a wide open border with the sound of Trump promising a wall will cripple his campaign.
Even if Trump does not face a primary, he will be so damaged that it may not matter. The interesting thing about how Washington has responded to Trump is they have mostly ignored him. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are a click away from starting a cable channel where they laugh at Trump voters 24×7. They have run Congress as if Jeb Bush won the 2016 election. Sure, they feign outrage in the media, but that’s just theater. For the most part, they have ignored Trump, making him a completely inconsequential factor.
It does not have to be this way, but Trump has proven himself to be strikingly incompetent at the basics of politics. Part of that is the professionals in DC have figured out that all they need to do is put a microphone in front of him and he will eventually harm his own cause, by blurting out something stupid. The political class has come to terms with the fact that the White House is now just a carnival they visit once in while to be amused and outraged, but otherwise they can ignore it. This spending bill is the product of that realization.
Of course, this is part of a larger problem with cosmopolitan globalism. The people in charge ululate endlessly about democracy, but the political class is immune from the effects of democracy. In years with high turnover, incumbents will win 85% of the races and those that lose, lose to be people backed by the donor class. Democratic government has always been a about representing monied interests, but usually those interests are diverse enough to create competition between the parties and factions.
In the age of cosmopolitan globalism, the monied interest all agree on the big stuff and most of the little stuff. The Koch Brothers are cast by the Left as evil monsters, but they support all the same stuff the rest of the billionaires support. The difference between a Tom Steyer and a Charles Koch is purely aesthetic. The former likes to dress up as a man of the green people, while the latter wants to play the libertarian character. In reality, they both support post-nationalism. That means open borders and global piracy.
The funny thing is that even as both parties take turns giving their constituents the finger, the public engages even more intensely with the process. My rather mild and measured critique of Trump’s gun grabbing the other day, elicited howls of protests from the MAGA hat people. Post-national democracy is a group version of battered wife syndrome. The more the ruling elite abuses the public, the more the public defends them. Of course, it helps that Trump was mostly right about the people who voted for him.
Still, the voting public seems to have developed a biological trait that allows them to justify endless abuse heaped on their heads by politicians. Perhaps it was always there, but re-purposed for life in liberal democracy. Through the Middle Ages, peasants and townsfolk put up with the excess of the aristocrats, rallying to defend their lord, as if it was a noble thing to do. In fact, obedience to the lord came to define the good subject. Maybe that’s what we have today. Voting is the pageant, but the social relations are still the same.
That said, at some point, one has to assume the public will notice that voting makes no difference. Right now, voting seems to make things worse. If a populist candidate or party does well, the political class punishes the voters with even more globalism. The results thus far suggest staying home is the best way to promote your interests. Eventually, even Trump voters will figure this out and disengage. On the other hand, maybe at some level we know it, but politics is just a way to pass the time, like going to the movies.