You might have heard, Leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell was chased to his car at a restaurant in his home state of Kentucky.
Now, this follows on the heels of a few other events. Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant, since closed due to protests outside. Stephen Miller could not eat in peace at a Mexican Restaurant (oh the irony there.) He also had a sushi run ruined. And now former EPA Chief Scott Pruitt was asked to resign at a DC restaurant. He did resign a couple days later, after reportedly we was told he could be fired by the president, in a cloud of scandals..
There will be others.
We have crossed an important point, Protests are no longer confined to the usual places. Meaning the halls of Congress, American streets and city halls. Politicians and political appointees seem to be facing a new reality. This new reality is one that will be all but comfortable to these officials. The line between the private sphere, where they can to get a bite in private, and the public sphere, is now severely blurred.
For the record, what is good for the goose, is good for the gander, so expect this to happen to Democrats as well, soon. It also marks a point of increased political tension in the country.
People elected to toss a hand grenade into the presidency. The voters threw an explosive to an ossified system. However. this hand grenade is doing what explosives usually do. It is blowing up, and doing massive damage. The fact that people in Kentucky are willing to face off with essentially an EOD technician, that could keep the real damage to a minimum, who chose to stay home, is significant. Yes, Congress could limit the damage done by the president by using their very real powers, as stated in the Constitution, but so far they have chosen to remain quiet.
Why? Well, judges of course. Republicans want corporate friendly judges on the court, at all levels. Their goal is to unmake a lot of the advances in workers rights in the last fifty years. They have already undone quite a bit of these rights. And the concept of precedent is not slowing them down. I know that most people worry about Roe v Wade, and you should. It probably will be overturned soon. It is one of the things that animates the right wing, and the right to life crowd. That is true. But the objective is not really Roe. It is truly all kinds of rights that you have as a worker, that get in the way of profits. The objective is to also pack the court with corporate friendly judges that will find against most environmental regulations.
Roe is just a side benefit. One that will please the far right that wants to get rid of any abortion rights, They want to control the female body. However they are an important part of the base. So keeping them happy matters.
So going back to the protests, There are several forces at play that make this a critical marker. The lower taxes did not benefit the vast majority of Americans. Fortune knew this, and wrote this early on:
Savings from corporate tax cuts will go either to shareholders via dividends and stock buybacks, customers in the form of lower prices and better products, or employees through higher wages, said David Zervos, chief market strategist for Jefferies LLC. But distribution will vary. Some firms, such as Caterpillar Inc., are saddled with pension liabilities that need to be funded. Other industries, including chip-makers, could use extra cash to cut prices.
Many predict that the bulk of the gains will go to shareholders. The rationale is that U.S. companies already have plenty of cash and borrowing rates are at historic lows. That means there are already few hurdles to increasing investment, so the tax cuts won’t fundamentally change that mindset.
Americans are starting to realize this. Their paychecks saw increases that at times were in the penny level. This led to a stark conclusion in a poll. Most Americans did not see a benefit in those paychecks, And those that did, are in higher income brackets that were expected to benefit the most.
Then add to this the trade war.
This will hit people in their pocket book in places like Kentucky. Toyota, among others, has plants in Kentucky. They employ over 8000 people. With the trade war, they may leave. And given how large of an employer it is, this is not a joke. They warned of this, with among others GM. And we already are seeing job losses in several industries, as the steel tariffs bite.
Americans are starting to realize that the hand grenade they threw into an ossified system is doing a lot of damage. While some of the trigger to the protests we are starting to see is the separation of families at the border, reasons to be unhappy with the current situation will only increase. And as the cuts to Social Security and Medicare hit people hard, expect even more instability. Austerity has a limit, before society explodes.
These protests are a symptom of that social instability. Protests are no longer limited to the usual suspects that protest at the drop of a hat. This is now becoming wide spread. And it is also a marker that Americans are not happy with their government.
I expect to see more calls for civility, from members of the ruling elite. They not only want to have dinner in peace, but they are not stupid. Calls for civility are a way to try to calm the waters. But as things continue the way they are, an increasing number of Americans will be willing to express themselves, and show their feelings.
Yes, voting maters, and people should do so, But with severe gerrymandering, and other methods to keep the vote under control, people are increasingly running out of options. Trump’s election was a consequence of forty years of these politics of austerity, privatization and neoliberalism. Chickens are coming home to roost. These kinds of protests have been fairly common in Europe and Latin America for years. Perhaps, they are coming to the United States as a permanent feature. Perhaps, the traffic report for DC will now include the daily protest, like it does in Mexico City