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An Institutional Analysis of the Present Political World

What are we witnessing these days?  Clearly we are witnessing a war of sorts, but who is it between and what are the weapons?  In a broad sense, it is between conservative and liberals, but only in the broad sense.  Many conservatives oppose Trump, and many Democrats in the rust belt supported him.  So it is complicated.

Perhaps it is easier to look at the matter from an institutional perspective.  Which institutions are supporting Trump and which are opposing him?

If one looks at American society, it is clear that most of the governments are controlled by Republicans.  At the federal level, the political appointees of the Executive branch obviously support Trump, as does the majority in the House and the Senate.  And the Senate has a filibuster which is eliminated or weakened as to appointments.  At the state level, most states are controlled by Republican governors and very few states have both houses controlled by Democrats.  Thus, the government is largely controlled by Republicans.

But the Democrats, especially the left, control many institutions in society and they are using those institutions.  One might characterize these institutions as cultural institutions and their actions as involving cultural power.  These institutions comprise the media, the universities, the arts, sports leagues, nonprofits, the civil service, and most large businesses.

Basically, these institutions are using whatever authority they can.  The media and the universities are portraying Trump and the Republicans in the most unattractive terms possible.  Other institutions are taking actions to basically insist that their members criticize Trump, or at least not support Trump.  Obviously, this does not occur 100% of the time, but it occurs frequently and especially as to the most salient issues.

It will be interesting to see how this “war” turns out.  On the one hand, the Republicans are unlikely to maintain this form of political dominance for long, although it is quite conceivable that they could keep both houses in 2018 (given the senators who are up for reelection) and perhaps Trump could win reelection in 2020 (given how hard it is to defeat an incumbent).  On the other hand, the Democrats are likely to keep control of these cultural institutions for quite a while.  Yet, if these institutions continue to behave in aggressive ways, and Trump supporters become annoyed about that, they could feel it on their bottom line.

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