I Hear That Train a’Comin’
James Howard Kunstler
Think of the American two-party political system as two ramshackle freight trains running towards each other over old, neglected tracks, on a one-year collision course. Will there even be two parties left for the 2020 election?
The Republican Party is a train of booby-trapped freight cars that can blow at any time. The engine is running on the fumes of the financialized economy. The engineer, Mr. Trump, only has his eye on the gauge that represents the stock market, which produces the gaseous emanations running his train. But the tank cars are leaking. The vapors are highly flammable. Any little spark can set it off, and surely will.
The Democratic Party is carrying seventeen gondola cars of the worst political scandal in US history: RussiaGate, the attempted coup d’état by national gaslighting, which will expose dozens of party officers and foot-soldiers in an actual criminal conspiracy, and subject them to ignominious prosecution in the heart of the election year. The damage could run as high as former President Obama when all is said and done, with Mrs. Clinton dragged under the wheels in the ensuing train wreck. It will be ugly and embarrassing to the max.
The Dem’s train also includes the circus cars of its identity politics hustlers, Reps AOC, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley plus the sideshow of so-far-suppressed Joe Biden scandals concerning massive cash payoffs from Ukraine and China to his entrepreneurial son, Hunter — conveniently arranged during his Dad’s official trips to those places as Vice-president.
There is reason to believe that a majority of voters are good and goddam sick of identity hustling and the tiresome racket of political correctness that spawned it. They see its bottomless appetite for grievance and complaint — against a reality in which life is difficult for everybody, not just self-proclaimed victims of oppression. They smell the odor of bad faith in the party’s campaign for an open border with Mexico and its abject refusal to legislate immigration law reform — while grandstanding about the alleged mistreatment of people who cross the border illegally. Most of all, they are sick of the endless moral instruction and coercion, especially over “gender” issues and sexual boundary-stretching, the parades of freaks in dog masks, ball gags, and S & M get-ups, not to mention the utter insanity of the drag queen story hour, in which men perform as monstrous caricatures of women for impressionable six-year-olds. That is what it’s come to for the party of Franklin Roosevelt and Jack Kennedy.
Yet, Mr. Trump’s chances for reelection hang on the slender thread of his fictitious miracle economy, which is something like one of those fabulous parties at Jay Gatsby’s place depicted in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel about life before the 1929 crash — a splashy but localized event strictly for the denizen elite of the Gold Coasts. It’s the product of world-wide money-printing, computer algo fakery in the exchanges, statistical spirit-cooking, and the perversions provoked by artificial ultra-low interest rates that destroy the basic functions of capital formation.
The cover-story for all that is the completely insane doctrine called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) which states that a nation with the world’s reserve currency can never go bankrupt as long as it can keep “printing” more money — or punching computer keystrokes into the “systemically important” (Too Big to Fail) bank accounts. When that train goes off the rails — as it must, because it’s at-odds with reality — it will be the biggest wreck in history, and it will bring all the operations of advanced societies to a stop, including raw materials supply lines, manufacturing, global trade, and industrial-scale Agri-Biz. The last of these will be especially punishing in a world where bad weather is hammering this year’s grain production.
The Democratic Party already has a big wagon of snake oil to “cure” all that: socialism. They’re completely up-front about it. Anyway, it’s just another name for the periodic forced redistribution of wealth from the fat and greedy over-class to the suffering underclass — an understandable impulse in societal extremis, but one with universally unappetizing side-effects, namely the destruction of consensual economic relations. The catch in this instance is that the “wealth” they seek to redistribute will be exactly what goes up in a vapor when the stock and bond markets implode, along with the world’s fiat currencies.
As the old axiom goes, debt is always repaid by somebody, even in a default. In the present case, it will be paid by the young and by other citizens of the future, since the mountain of debt racked up world-wide the past several decades was literally a massive borrowing from the future to keep running all the systems of today (and yesterday). The future itself was the collateral. That’s the sad and tricky part.
These are the dynamics going into the election of 2020. It’s actually not just a matter of whether these two old political parties survive, but whether the USA can even remain intact when these tensions give way.
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.