Elite Street versus Main Street.
America’s bull is loose in the China shop. President Trump has set in place a confrontation with China over that nation’s trade infractions. The shop’s elite patrons are in paroxysms, while Main Street presses their nose to the glass to watch the show. That two groups could see such different things in the same occurrence is the crux of American politics today.
For decades, Main Street America has felt the effect of the elite’s prevailing trade approach. Elites therefore cannot directly oppose Trump in attacking China; they are left only with the cursory response that they would pursue it in a better way — despite never having bothered to do so.
China’s mercantilist approach is nothing new. In Asia, Japan, and then Korea, earlier used this developmental approach. In America, a different segment of Main Street suffered each time.
The economic throwback of mercantilism seems quaint to America’s elites — its beneficiaries — but cruel to its victims — Main Streets. Undoubtedly, the elite’s perception would have been very different had China been flooding America’s markets with lawyers instead of leggings.
America is democratic to a fault. Today’s elite brands it demagogic. However, it predates America’s revolutionary origin. After, Tocqueville eloquently documented it. We have a long-held love of satirizing the elite — from the Three Stooges running roughshod through a mansion, to the Marx Brothers demolishing an opera.
For Main Street, Trump has imbued America’s innate love of such high jinks with a sense of high justice: “It is about time.” There is no little element of payback here. This is why Trump has bulled into so many china shops — NAFTA, trade with the EU and Japan, immigration — not just China. And, why so many have enjoyed watching him go.
There is a fundamental misunderstanding in American politics. The elite believe Main Street cannot see there is a bull in the china shop, or do not understand the damage he will cause. For Main Street’s part, they see and understand perfectly — and it is precisely where they want him. The real issue separating elites from Main Streets is not about where the bull is, but whose ox is being gored.
This one’s an enjoyable read, full of amusing lines that make some seriously insightful points in an almost comic way.