Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How Trump?

Just quickly: my thoughts on how Donald Trump got elected.

Every person who gets elected has a variety of people voting for him or her, with quite different objectives.  They hope they can get the candidate of their choice elected, but of course, with a large electorate, it isn't a sure thing.  [I try to explain below the amazingly diverse sorts of people who may have voted for Trump, but understand that there is just as wide a variety of people who probably voted for Hillary as well.  Unfortunately, many of potential Hillary voters probably stayed home, not being able get up the enthusiasm to venture forth on Election Day.]

This time around, there were a lot of diverse voters [or rather, a great diversity of voter objectives, and many categories of voter], none of whom could have won the election for Donny by themselves:

1. There were the disgruntled members of the white working class (as Noam Chomsky observed), who did not get anything (from Obama) except Health Care, and didn't really care too much about that, both because of their belief in the lies of the conservative Press (the only information they believe), and because they have never been interested in health care, and have no basis for assessing the quality of a healthcare system.

2. There were the frustrated Republicans, who were furious about the gains the Liberals had made under Obama, despite the fact that the gains were not spectacular.  Some of these were desperate to get a conservative judge into the supreme court, and they don't understand that very few judges are as heedlessly political as Scalia, who was partisan to the last.

3. Some of those under the heading (2) above might have been disgusted with the advancement of the LGBTQ community.  There is a significant number of people who hate the very thought that gays and lesbians no longer need stay in the closet.  The same can be said of those who hate equality of women.  These gains had little to do with Obama; they would have come no matter who was in the White House; they arrival was hastened little, if at all.

4. Some simply could not deal with a black or a minority president in the White House, and wanted an affluent white businessman to be president, simply because it fit in with their image of what a president should look like, even if he didn't talk right.

5. Some hated the very guts of Hillary Clinton, for various reasons.  They could not identify with her culture, her voice, her husband, the fact that she was a Democrat insider.  Some simply could not reconcile themselves to having a woman in such a high office.  This is exceedingly sad.

6. A few did dislike the large number of immigrants in modern US society.  Very possibly, rural folks in Pennsylvania and Indiana and Ohio just do not like to see brown skinned folks walking their streets.  Ironically, some brown-skinned folks do not like it either.

7. As I have suggested earlier, there probably is a large group of people out there that despise highly-educated people; they like people who talk with a vocabulary of fewer than 50 words, as Trump does.  He's a down home boy to them.  A fat white guy with a limited vocabulary who repeats himself endlessly: just the thing!

8. And finally, there are a vast number of former Bernie Sanders supporters who were persuaded to either stay home, or vote for Trump.  These are probably kicking themselves in their secret hearts, but are likely not going to confess that they're disappointed.

Some commentators believe that this (effective, but not intentional) coalition of voters was engineered by some genius.  The geniuses engineered a few details of the circumstances, but I doubt whether the entire thing could have been predicted, except in a very general way.  Unfortunately, many of those who voted at all are not intelligent enough to understand the consequences of the outcome, and the long-term effects of Trump being President.  I doubt whether Trump himself understands them completely.  He certainly realizes that ignoring the health of the air and the water will--temporarily, in his mind--mess up public health, but he probably thinks that the boost to the economy of permitting unlimited use of fossil fuels will offset the return of heavy pollution.  This is probably the single biggest fallacy that drives the conservatives and Big Business.  Business will save America.  And if it doesn't, it will (at least) reward Trump.

So Trump will, unwittingly, destroy America, and never see it coming.

I once read a novel in which something very like this happens.  The surface is stunningly polluted, but people live on, in highly decorated cities insulated from the devastated environment outside, their health supported by an invisible sub-race of janitors and workmen, who live in caves below the cities, who emerge late at night to pick up and clean up after the main population that spends its time in one continuous party.

A number of political commentators on both sides are furious at Trump violating the understanding that Presidents must put their investments into a blind trust, to avoid violating the Emoluments Clause.  One of them has blogged about possible avenues to hold Trump accountable without depending on the heavily Republican Congress.
It seems as though Trump is the only president in modern history who has been determined to exploit the commercial possibilities of being President of the US (though of course there is some reason to suspect that the Bush family benefited from the Iraq Wars).

I do not know whether Trump's exploiting his hospitality enterprise located in Washington D.C. is a source of embarrassment to some citizens (it certainly is an embarrassment to me), or whether they feel that the conflict of interests interferes materially with the running of government (it probably will, since foreign heads of state can bribe their ways into obtaining preferential treatment by the White House via gifts disguised as custom for his companies).  I try not to get upset over the total lack of class of the Trump family and administration; it is almost as if they deliberately set out to grind any sense of Presidential Style we may have had into the dust.  No class in speech, no class in action.

If the Trump Administration were to do something positive for the poor working class, the unemployed, the elderly and other weakest members of society, it would have to be something enormous, to offset my sense of disgust at the way they carry on.  From what I hear, the Supreme Court nominee has potential, and is regarded with some respect.  I am suspending judgment.

The Republican Party, too, is on thin ice with me (of course).  I expect less than nothing from the leadership of the National and State GOP, and all the Republican intellectuals I know are carefully distancing themselves from the Trump Administration, only rushing out occasionally to endorse an appointee whom they support.  There is some support for Betsy deVos from members of my extended family, mostly because they teach in New York State, where they feel that their activities are micromanaged too much by the NY Board of Education.  But I can never bring myself to believe that private enterprise can be entrusted with things such as Health Care and Education, and I expect both to go to hell in a handbasket if privatized.  The Pennsylvania Senator, Pat Toomey, is apparently a spineless sycophant.  His appointment to his second term is huge victory for stupidity over reason.  Unfortunately, his opponent in the election Katie McGinty was not a very charismatic campaigner, which made it an uphill struggle to elect her.

So, it is a bleak picture.  Only the fact that so many of my friends, with whom I seldom discuss any political matters (since we usually agree so completely that we don't need to, or we disagree so completely that we don't dare to,) seem to articulate reasonable opinions so well gives me enormous satisfaction.  Even a local conservative political leader remarked to me recently that "We're all in this together!"  I did not feel confident to pursue the matter, but I get the impression that they despair of managing the President, and even the local GOP leadership, to keep government working for everyone.  At the local level, even the Republicans know that it is one thing to jettison the safety-net put in by Democrats of the Franklin Roosevelt era completely, and quite another to keep a city or the county working as it should.

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