A Crisis of Representation

What happened in the US elections does not represent a constitutional crisis. Neo-liberalism’s chickens have come home to roost, and the crisis we are experiencing is what Gramsci in the ‘20s called a “crisis of representation,” one in which the links between parties and their putative constituencies break down. Whether there is a larger ”crisis of hegemony” lurking as well, one in which state institutions no longer accomplish core functions, remains to be seen. The latter could in turn precipitate a constitutional crisis.

The neo-liberal, “third-way” policies that turned the Clinton Democratic Party into an engine of growing inequality presented a bill that came due yesterday. The Democratic Party came to resemble the Republican Party c.1960: a coalition of big money, Hollywood, suburbanites focused on personal freedoms, and a plantation-like relationship to ethnic, especially Black, politicians. Obama, with his promises of “hope” and “change,” appealing personal history, and opposition to excessive warfare could make this work. But inequality has only become worse as the economic situation has improved since 2008, and Clinton lacked all charm as well as any social program. She also insisted on displaying an itchy trigger finger at a time when sending working class children off to desert wars had lost all its glamor. As a result, her neo-liberal party proved highly vulnerable to the Nationalist Party assembled by Donald Trump. And she became a victim of a certain misogyny as well.

Trump was elected by an angry and disheartened majority and not, as much of the liberal media would like to have it, by a racist minority and yahoo blue-collar losers ...

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