An absolutely fascinating article from Arlie Hochschild, whose new book on the American right sounds like a must read:

Traditional Tea Party supporters wanted to cut both the practice of cutting in line, and government rewards for doing so. Followers of Donald Trump, on the other hand, wanted to keep government benefits and remove shame from the act of receiving them – but restrict those benefits, implicitly, to native-born Americans, preferably white.

From The Deep State, by Mike Lofgren, pg 231. This strikes me as a really important point: politicians are insulated from external pressures while nonetheless having their behaviour shaped all the more by internal pressures, driving a political polarisation which can seem prima facie like the intensification of politicisation rather than its diminuation:

Thanks to the scientific gerrymandering of House districts and the voluntary “social sorting” of people with similar political beliefs into the same zip codes, incumbents are roughly 96 percent safe in general elections. So it is highly unlikely that a Tea Party Republican will ever be defeated by a Democratic candidate in the general election. The Economist has pointed out that House members, both Democratic and Republican, are safer in their districts than the crowned heads of the European monarchies, who have had a higher rate of turnover through death or abdication. The only threat to an incumbent Republican is a primary challenger who stands even further to the right. Thus has ideology replaced money, by no means in all races, but in the contests for a crucial fifty or sixty seats in the House of Representatives.

From The Deep State, by Mike Lofgren, pg 123-125:

By secession, I do not mean physical withdrawal from the territory of the state, although that does happen from time to time. Erik Prince, who was born into a fortune, is related by marriage to the even bigger Amway fortune, and made yet another fortune as CEO of the mercenary-for-hire firm Blackwater, moved to the United Arab Emirates in 2011; and some Republicans, who are so quick to say “America, love it or leave it,” showed a remarkable sense of latitude when Eduardo Saverin, a Facebook cofounder, renounced his citizenship. When Democrats introduced a bill to make expatriate tax dodgers pay a 30 percent tax rate on all future U.S. investments and ban them from the country, Republican operative Grover Norquist likened the bill to the actions of Nazi Germany against Jews. 1 

These examples apart, what I mean by secession is a withdrawal into enclaves, an internal immigration whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from concern about its well-being. Our plutocracy, whether the hedge fund managers in Greenwich, Connecticut, or the Internet moguls in Palo Alto, now lives like the British did in colonial India: ruling the place but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; to the person fortunate enough to own a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension, and viable public transportation doesn’t even compute. With private doctors on call and a chartered plane to get to the Mayo Clinic, why worry about Medicare?

There’s a great anecdote later on that page about the strange worldlessness of economic architect of neoliberalism Robert Rubin:

I once discussed this syndrome with a radio host who recounted a story about Robert Rubin, the former treasury secretary. He recalled that Rubin was being chauffeured through Manhattan to reach some event whose attendees consisted of the Great and the Good such as himself. Along the way his limousine encountered a traffic jam, and on arriving late to the event, he complained to a city functionary with the power to look into it. “Where was the jam?” asked the functionary. Rubin, who had lived most of his life in Manhattan, a place predominantly of east-west numbered streets and north-south avenues, couldn’t tell him.

From The Deep State, by Mike Lofgren, pg 86-87. I’m beginning to try and catalogue public examples of this defensiveness because some of the over-reactions seem fascinatingly unbalanced:

It is surprising how much fear his timid policies have generated among the big-money boys. There are no rational grounds for the hyperthyroid reactions of hedge fund bosses like Steven Schwarzman when Obama is largely a champion of the status quo who raises much of his money among Schwarzman’s colleagues. Nevertheless, the neoliberal mandarins at the venerable Economist say Obama has an image as one “who is hostile to business.” 36 It is one thing to shake our heads at the behavior of gun nuts who fear Obama will take away their firearms and send them to a FEMA concentration camp in Montana and quite another to consider that many canny Wall Street operatives, whose business model is based on a reptilian calculation of their own material interests, have succumbed to the irrational idea that totalitarian socialism is just around the corner and that Obama is going to usher it in, when he is only a more hesitant version of his predecessor. 

That such a weak reed, who has acceded time and again to the entrenched interests of the permanent state, should incite so much negative passion among so many in the billionaire class suggests they are displacing their fears of the simmering discontent among the 99 percent onto a convenient political symbol. Their touchy defensiveness reveals the contradictions within the political system they dominate. President Obama, who appears to administer that system without enthusiasm or belief, has dissatisfied key constituencies of the Deep State even as he has alarmed the traditionalists who defend the remnants of the constitutional state.

This address to Congress seems remarkably relevant given current events in the United States. It’s quoted in The Deep State, by  Mike Lofgren, page 30:

Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is fascism—ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any other controlling private power. The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living. Both lessons hit home. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing. —Franklin D. Roosevelt, message to Congress, April 29, 1938