Power to some is a zero sum game. I have power then you don't and vice versa. To not have power is to be weak. Power is currency that can be transformed into other forms of currency. Power can be "hard" akin to the use of force or the threat of force, or "soft" more persuasive. On the global level, its saber rattling and force deployment such as an aircraft carrier. On the soft power front, it can be economic, but I relate it to more diplomatic and cultural connections.
The more I think of this election the more I view it in longer terms of power. It is a clash over class, race, and religion in terms of where the power rests. Power to control and see to it that long terms trends that had been set in motion are reversed. The reaction from some quarters has been so outrageous that I am at a loss so I'm taking a longer view here.
FDR was the traitor to his class with the New Deal. The Great Depression started with the Stock Market Crash of 1929. The exuberance of the Roaring 20's and its supply-side growth came down with the speculation in the market and the runs on the banks that followed in the wake of the Crash. World War II put people back to work in droves, but the policies remained in place and were expanded with Truman in office. Social Security has become a bedrock of the American social safety net. The economic policies allowed for a prosperous Middle Class to spring up after WWII and fueled years of prosperity.
LBJ was considered a traitor to his race. His "Great Society" sought to expand Civil Rights, Voting Rights, and end poverty. Johnson signed landmark legislation that he knew would hand the South over to Republicans/Dixiecrats for a generation. He pushed for racial equality.
Then there is the rise of the Moral Majority. The Christian Right pushed an agenda to "return America to its Christian roots." The fight was on to end abortion, outlaw homosexuality, to rid the airwaves of indecency and put prayer back in schools. The actual Moral majority was started in 1979. This was a reaction to the sexual revolution as they saw it. I hold that they also wanted women to return to their "traditional" roles of mothers and housewives.
There is a common point where these things begin to intersect. It was under Ronald Reagan that economic policies began to return to supply-side style and running up deficits. There was also strong deregulation of economy, thus eroding the support of the Middle Class.
Reagan launched his campaign in Philadelphia, MS, with the "dog whistle" of States Rights. He attacked welfare queens as part of his election. His Administration began undoing parts of the Great Society. He was hostile to affirmative action. It was at this time that the Moral Majority began working with the Republican Party to court evangelical Christians to form part of the base. The levers of government would begin to make changes to the power structure. The Republican party gathered religion and economic elites to their cause and sought to gain more power and control.
Power in class level had devolved to an extent thanks to FDR. Power was not going to be concentrated in White male hands if LBJ's policies could help it, and Religion's decline was going to be arrested and power/authority would return to the pulpit.
The battles on the social front made the most headlines, but the fights on the economic fronts were mainly headlines of unions losing and corporate profits rising. Society when it came to race was more diverse. But those long battles over class, race, and religion weren't settled and continued and we come to the NOW. The conservative economic policies have been a disaster with deregulation almost taking down the banking system and fiscal policies that have mired the federal government in debt.
Barack Obama's election set off all kinds of fault lines. The racial one being the most obvious. On the class front, the policy battles over the basis of economic policy and regulating the economy brought out the class elites who stand to lose. On the religion front, the social wars have grown worse as the attack on women and their rights have grown more pointed.
To me it is all about power and the ability of that power to control. President Obama is the very hallmark of what Civil Rights was supposed to achieve. America elected a black president. He did it of his own merit. LBJ should be smiling. Except that the backlash has been disgusting as some elements of society see that their "power" is gone. They see it as fading. They want "their" America back. They are racists. There is no other term I would use.
Wealth has grown more concentrated as Bush succeeded in what Reagan started and set tax policy to the benefit of the few over the many. He failed to end Social Security which would have killed the legacy of the New Deal. But he started the conversation. Paul Ryan has set forth a budget that would end Medicare as we know it. The Republican Party supports this. That would kill one of LBJ's legacies. They would kill the other with attacks on voting rights.
So this is all about who has power. This is about where that power will reside in the next few years. The few, the very few, would again control much of America as they did before the Great Depression. (Also taking into account the erosion of union strength, attacks on environmental regulations, health and safety requirements for employees, and public sector jobs. All designed to increase profits at the expense of people.) The fact that Citizens United as helped the wealthy elites spend unlimited amounts of money in this election only serves to allow them to covert money into an attempt to gain more power.
I could go on and on about the attacks on education and the lasting effects of those policies. But I see this all about Power. Fear has driven a large segment of our society to irrationality. And now those that felt they lost back when FDR was president want to return to that time, to succeed in undoing what their fathers and grandfathers could not. I would rather flip the script and launch another New Deal with a huge heaping side of Great Society. They have already caused incredible harm to the country and our people. They only way to undo that harm is to relaunch policies that they seek to undo.