Divide and rule is as old as the hills.
That’s just the way it is.
In the wake of Trump’s surprising win over Hillary Clinton, Democrats have seized upon several explanations for the poor showing of their establishment candidate. It was the Russian’s. Or Wikileaks. But most pernicious was the excuse put forth by the candidate herself before the results were known. Trump supporters were deplorable, declared Mrs. Clinton.
The expletive was directed at white working-class voters who’d been left behind by the neoliberal, New Economy, celebrated by Hillary, and largely created by her husband, Bill Clinton, when he was president.
Indeed, a list of the feral elite who served in the Clinton Administration reveals just what interests were served. There was Robert Rubin who went from co-chair of Goldman Sachs to secretary of the treasury. And, Ron Brown, corporate lawyer and lobbyist at the Department of Commerce. Mickey Kantor, corporate lawyer, was in charge of “free trade” deals. Warren Christopher, another corporate lawyer, was at the State Department and would initiate the liberal interventions that continue to plague US foreign policy. Then there was Hillary herself, a corporate lawyer and board member at Walmart, the low-wage behemoth that’s destroyed countless small town economies. She would supervise health care.
While that kind of lineup went over big with the corporate and banking interests, its policy pursuits would end up driving a wedge between the Democratic Party and the working class.
At the top of the neoliberal policies pursued by the Clinton Administration was the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Of course the corporate CEO’s and the bankers loved NAFTA. The corporate media was also a big fan, no surprise, since their owners have the same class interests.
For the rest of us there’s not been much to celebrate.
NAFTA decimated American union wages and led to a hollowing out of the economy. In essence, US industry shifted production to Mexico where Mexican workers were paid one-third that of US workers. Imagine the feeling when the boss came to inform you that your job was being moved to Mexico and there was nothing you could do. Do you think there might be some animus towards Mexicans?
It wasn’t just American workers who suffered. NAFTA decimated the Mexican economy, leaving Mexican workers the choice of going to work for American corporations in Mexico (maquiladoras) for whatever wages they were offering or migrating to the U.S. Indeed, NAFTA created the conditions that made the Mexican immigrant invasion that Trump rails against inevitable.
By the time NAFTA was fully implemented the feral elite behind its central policies had already settled upon a racialized explanation of Mexican immigration to the U.S. According to this conventional wisdom, NAFTA bear no responsibility for the millions of Mexicans leaving Mexico for the U.S. or for the rapidly declining fortunes of American workers who suddenly faced competition from people willing to work for whatever they could get. Rapists and freeloaders coming for American jobs is now the carefully-crafted storyline.
What’s so infuriating is that the liberals who are now so concerned about Trump’s racism, played a huge part in creating the fertile soil for it to flourish. The deplorables pejorative is especially offensive given the role of liberal economists and politicians in engineering the economic facts that racism and xenophobia are now being exploited to explain. Especially galling is Bill Clinton decrying Trumpian xenophobia while being the architect of the policies that exacerbated the hatred.
The result of these bi-partisan neoliberal policies has been mass immigration from Mexico and the destruction of the American working-class.
For the feral elite it’s nothing personal. It’s just capitalism, with its emphasis on the surplus value of labor. Different classes of workers are created and placed in competition with one another to benefit the 1%.
Divide and rule.