9 Nov 2016

Trump's election was a long time coming

On Sept 12, 2001, I wrote ...
It is clear, as the reaction to this tragedy develops, that many people were killed or hurt and MANY more are scared, mad and/or upset...Americans, in general, do not have alternative life experiences from other cultures. For many of them, this attack was the first time that the outside world has directly intervened with their lives. It seems that many people are handling themselves in a way that deserves tremendous respect and pride, but I have some fear of anger replacing what's "right".


Before we go off and start shooting (or nuking) all the "rag heads" (as Howard Stern's listeners want), perhaps we should consider where the perpetrators are coming from in terms of their anger at what "America" has done to them. It's too bad that US citizens are not called upon to make the decisions that the government makes for them, because, if we knew more of what was happening (there is a clear lack of coverage and bias in most of the US press/television - against Muslims), it is likely that the USA wouldn't be responsible for as many messes as it is.
Sadly, what we got was a "crusade" led by ignorant and ideological "neoconservatives" that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, more chaos in the Middle East, increased human rights abuses, and so on.

The (not-unrelated) global financial crisis that began in 2007 added economic misery to political instability. The rise of Occupy and the Tea Party in the US (and their failure to get traction), the implosion of cooperation in the Euro-zone, the backlash against free trade, and collapse of climate change negotiations ("now is not the time") can be traced to the blame game and half-cocked responses to economic troubles.

Although 20008 US elections were nearly decided in favor of "Drill Baby Drill" Republicans, Obama was elected president. The joke was "everything's fucked, so they gave the job to the black guy." Although Obama did not deliver as much hope and change as he promised, he did a damn fine job under the circumstances. Perhaps the greatest barrier to his good ideas was the knee-jerk reactionary opposition of the Republicans in Congress who blocked everything they could -- even ideas that they had proposed (the original design of "Obamacare" for example) or norms that had held for over 200 years (voting on the President's nominee to the Supreme Court).

The Republicans' scorched earth policy -- and the related propaganda and lies in an increasingly biased media -- deepened the divisions across American states, thereby turning a republic of "e pluribus unum" (from many, one) into two sides, Red and Blue, each striving to "take back control" of Washington DC so that they could force the losing side to accept their agenda. To me, this process began with FDR's centralization of power in the 1930s (via the Commerce Clause), the rise of "win at all costs" electioneering in the 70s (from "dirty tricks" to Reagan's manipulation of Iranian hostage release) and 80s (the Willie Horton ad) and 90s (Newt's Contract with America, Clinton's impeachment).

Although Hillary was obviously more qualified for the job, she bore the triple burdens of sexism, lies and partisanship as she faced an opponent who promised that Americans could eat their cake and have it. (Watch his final video advert if you want to see how he presses the fear and pride buttons.) I'm sure that The Donald knew he could win after seeing Berlusconi win, Putin lie without consequence, and Sarah Palin's dimwitted policy pronouncements. Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) gave him an excellent chance of winning for his constant appeal to fear, and Brexit more or less showed how angry people would vote against their own interests, to "send a message."

These results are horrifying to the thoughtful among us who see cause and effect, who consider rights to come with obligations, who prefer to negotiate from strength rather than use it to abuse the weak, but they are exactly the results that fearful, nationalistic, bullying people like Donald Trump love.

And they are not novel, as we can see from the writing of H.L. Mencken:
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
And in the words of George Carlin:

The winners from yesterday's election results will not be the American people. The winners will be the demagogues, bullies and oligarchs who prefer theft over trade, violence over negotiation, and lies over honesty. (Putin was the first head of state to call and congratulate Trump.) Even the Onion cannot spin itself too far from the fact that Osama Bin Laden would be pleased: "FBI uncovers Al-Qaeda plot to just sit back and enjoy collapse of United States"

I am glad that I am watching these results from Amsterdam, as I could not imagine waking up today in California without facing a serious emotional crisis (even with the help of recreational marijuana!). I wrote this on Facebook:
The worst mistake was deregistering when we went back to Canada. Not only did i lose my 30% exemption (now I pay taxes like a proper Dutch!), but I also restarted the "5 year clock" for application for Dutch nationality. So, I have another 2.5 years to go. Until then (and perhaps long after then), I do not plan to visit the US.

I cannot think of a worst case scenario under a Trump-led government (with the supreme court and Congress in his pocket), as one-party states (Egypt, China, Russia, Turkey, et al...) are known for harming both their citizens and neighbors.

The most likely parallel I can imagine is the election of Hitler in 1933, which -- combined with disastrous anti-trade, nationalist policies -- led to WWII. [The New Yorker agrees]

This result is no surprise, but the result of the 1% getting so greedy that "the people's revolt" has brought a populist into office with a mandate to "do something" that is (a) likely to harm those exact people, (b) likely to help the 1% and (c) harm most inhabitants of the planet. #newworldorder
Bottom Line Trump's presidency adds momentum to an racist, nationalist, fascist trend towards a Dark Age that will make 99 percent of us poorer in heart, mind and home.

ps/There is a slim chance that Trump, with the support of the Republican-controlled Congress and Supreme Court will "Make America Great Again" in some yet-to-be-announced way (a la Nixon goes to China). I'd be thrilled, but I'm not putting more than 10 percent odds on that. I'm putting 90 percent odds on Trump being worse for the world and for the average American (based on both his history and the party he's working with). I hope I'm wrong, but I'm not usually wrong.

pps. If Trump is a real revolutionary outsider then he will appoint Michael Moore as SecLabor and Lawrence Lessig as AG. #realrevolution


Tim in Albion said...

Even if the GOP had run a "normal" candidate, I would be dreading the coming era of one-party rule. As you correctly point out, this has basically never worked out well. It's almost a euphemism for totalitarian state.

Anonymous said...

Myron Ebell has been named to lead the EPA transition (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/trump-picks-top-climate-skeptic-to-lead-epa-transition/). If anyone thought Life Plus 2M couldn't really happen.....

David Zetland said...

Yep. Book sales will be great :-\

See post today

Sander van der Heijden said...

Are you only letting your American/ British nationality go because of Trump? Don't forget the Netherlands most likely has it's own racist and nationalist leader in march 2017! Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geert_Wilders

David Zetland said...

Good point, but the Dutch have a parliamentary system that leads to coalitions that are likely to exclude Wilders, as usual. Second, "crazy right Dutch" is basically leftwing in the US :)

Just in case, I still have to wait a few years, so can't pull the trigger yet.

Sander van der Heijden said...

True that!

Free Trader said...

All the neocons threw their support behind Hillary...Wolfowitz, the Bushes, Cheney, Kagan...did you miss that?

(I deleted the above due to a spelling error).

David Zetland said...

I did miss that. Scary.

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.