Daily Bread for 3.16.22: What if They Got Everything They Wanted?

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 68.  Sunrise is 7:03 AM and sunset 7:03 PM for 11h 59m 57s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 96.3% its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Parks and Rec Board meets at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1935, Adolf Hitler orders Germany to rearm herself in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Conscription is reintroduced to form the Wehrmacht.

What would happen if Whitewater’s rightwing populists got everything they wanted?  

As always, a reminder: the politics of the city government and school district matter less than genuinely charitable efforts to uplift this community.  I’ve held these views for years. See An Oasis Strategy (2016) and Waiting for Whitewater’s Dorothy Day (2020).

To the extent that government has any money left after providing for the basic services of the community, that money should be directed as though it were a charitable effort. See Local Public Policy as if Charitable Assistance (2020)

And yet, here Whitewater is, after the Great Recession, opioid epidemic, economic stagnation, repeated incidents of sexual harassment, a pandemic, and another recession. Neither longstanding boosterism, nor the recent advocacy of (toxic) positivity from the school district offers any effective remedy for the community.  If Whitewater’s public officials want to be taken seriously, they’ll need to begin thinking, speaking, and acting seriously.  See Whitewater’s Local Government: Always Literally, Not as Often Seriously

For it all, one finds that bad goes to worse: a faction of rightwing populists now ludicrously presumes that it has a concoction that will have Whitewater up and at ’em.

No, and no again.

Jan-Werner Müller nicely summarizes the character of these populists:

The obvious one is that populists are going to claim that all other contenders for power are fundamentally illegitimate. This is never just a disagreement about policies or even about values, which after all in a democracy is completely normal, ideally maybe even somewhat productive. No, populists always immediately make it personal and they make it entirely moral. This tendency to simply dismiss everybody else from the get-go as corrupt, as not working for the people, that’s always the pattern.

Then, second, and less obviously, populists will also suggest that anybody who doesn’t agree with their conception of the real people, and therefore also tends not to support them politically—that with all these citizens you can basically call into question whether they truly belong to the people in the first place. We’ve seen this with plenty of other politicians who are going to suggest that already vulnerable minorities, for instance, don’t truly belong to the people.

Rightwing populism has only a series of ill-considered grievances, and scores to settle. They’ve no sound economics, and even less of anything beyond that.

Now, as one can guess, any temporary alliance between the development men and the rightwing populists has the transactional types telling the populist types to tone it down a bit, to speak in vacuous business jargon to sound more reasonable. A creature’s fundamental nature doesn’t change simply because it’s quieter for a bit.

It speaks loudly to the arrogance and indifference of the development men to Whitewater’s ordinary residents that they’d hold open the door to those who not long ago supported every excess of Trumpism. Pride and greed are not good policy, but are instead bad traits.  It’s an old saying, still useful, that hubris invites Nemesis. 

Not long ago, these special-interest business types talked about bringing newcomers to the city.  No one will move to a Whitewater dominated by Trumpists; there are already plenty of Trumpist dystopias nearer to any possible newcomer than Whitewater is.  Whitewater’s comparative advantage lies in being different from these degraded places, not in becoming another one. 

Many communities face a challenge from rightwing populism, but not all towns are equally hardy and resilient.  An affluent and academically successful community would weather Trumpism far better than Whitewater. That kind of successful community might quickly throw off the Trumpists the way an otherwise healthy person recovers from an infection.

A community that’s already ill would find itself battling disease after disease at the same time.

After all that’s happened, and because of the failure of community leaders bolster the private rather than the political, Whitewater now faces a political challenge that would set her back still farther from prosperity and good order.  Struggling communities that fall into rightwing populism (viz., Trumpism) stay down. We’ve had cold conditions these many years, but rightwing populism will bring only an ice age.

Doubt not: there is a serious critique of the status quo to be made.  Know well: the rightwing populists are among the last people anywhere to offer that serious critique.

See also the series WHITEWATER’S LOCAL POLITICS 2021 and from this week Energy and Exhaustion & Conservatism v. Conservatism.

Putin’s Road to War (full documentary) from FRONTLINE:

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1 year ago

[…] We have for now avoided what might have been that worse condition. See What if They Got Everything They Wanted? […]