Monday, August 22, 2016

Chaos Monkeys - How One Assole Can Turn & Turned The Political Discourse To Nonsense

For generations, politicians have been viewed on a left-right spectrum, according to their policy positions. Now, however, they’re placed on a different spectrum entirely. At one end you find the sanguine technocrats of the old elite; at the other, the angry revolutionaries with no time for constitutional niceties.
Call this second group the “chaos monkeys,” the political outsiders who have no interest in mainstream policy debates. They tend to be deeply attractive to a huge and disillusioned “lol nothing matters” crowd, and often their egomania drives them to thirst for ever-greater power.

Vladimir Putin is a chaos monkey. So is Rodrigo Duterte, the newly elected president of the Philippines. And then there are the comedians – people like Beppe Grillo, in Italy, or Boris Johnson, in the UK, who catapult themselves into politics by force of little more than name recognition and an outsider attitude.

Chaos monkeys thrive in a world of social media, where messages aren’t intermediated by media elites and where a struggling middle class, which has seen little in the way of real economic gains in decades, has never found it easier to vent its frustrations.

Trump is the platonic ideal of the chaos monkey form: he has an enviable ability to capture the inchoate frustration of the 99% and turn it into something which can dominate the national political discourse, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else.

And that’s a huge problem. When a chaos monkey is in the race, he tends to render invisible severe and important policy distinctions. Trump is a very different beast from conventional politicians, but in order to see the difference, you need to look at him from a very different angle—an angle which renders everybody else more or less indistinguishable.


t has always been difficult for politicians to campaign on policies, as opposed to personalities and the power of inchoate narratives. But now it is harder than ever. This year, the effect is likely to be felt strongly in down-ticket races, where Democratic and Republican candidates are finding it incredibly hard to cut through the noise of the presidential race and to have substantive debates at least at the state level, or within Congressional districts.

And in future years, would-be presidential candidates are going to want to harness anger, rather than simply propose policies which will make the country a better place. Similarly, Trump voters are not easily going to revert to voting for some mild-mannered technocrat, whatever her place on the left-right spectrum. Trump has shaken up not only the Republican party but the entire American political system. And it’s hard to imagine that his brand of fiery invective will leave the stage when he does.

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