Friday, May 6, 2016

The Time to Worry and Be Engaged is Now!

Donald J. Trump at Pinkerton Academy
August 2015
Huckster someone who sells or advertises something 
in an aggressive, dishonest, or annoying way
-- Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Trump, it seems to me, is mainly selling himself and his proposed authoritarian deal-making governing style. There's not much substance. He has told the New York Times that he plans to turn the Oval Office into a corporate board room, empowering military leaders to act with respect to foreign affairs, and continuing to speak harshly about adversaries.

Such a governing style, frets Ilyia Somin, will be European style neo-Fascist. By this Somin means Tump may fashion the Republican party into something modeled after the National Front party in France: “big government welfare statism with protectionism and xenophobia.” Somin is a libertarian small government guy; his fear of “big government welfare statism” strikes no chord with me, but the potential of an authoritarian fascism built around protectionism and xenophobia on our shores is something we ignore at our peril.

Parties tend to rally around their leader, says Somin. The question is, if elected, how far would Trump lead the country in a xenophobic protectionist direction? And how far would the country follow him down that road? How much would Congress cooperate?

Trump has vowed to try to deport millions of immigrants, including hundreds of thousands of children who have never known any other home. Actually making efforts to carry through on such a promise to deport 11 million people (which amounts to 3% of our population) would require police state tactics. As Somin has noted:
Regulating immigration is not just about how people arrive, but about what they do once they have entered a country. It is about controlling how long people stay, where they travel, and what they do. Most of all, it means controlling whether or not and for whom they work (paid or unpaid), what they accept in financial remuneration, and what they must do to remain in employment, for as long as that is permitted. Yet this is not possible without controlling citizens and existing residents, who must be regulated, monitored and policed to make sure that they comply with immigration laws….

Immigrants are not readily discernible from citizens, or from residents with ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’, especially in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society. So any effort to identify and exclude or penalize immigrants will generally require stopping or searching or questioning anyone…. 
Immigration controls are controls on people, and it is difficult to control some people without also controlling others. Sometimes it is because it is not easy to distinguish those over whom control is sought from those who are considered exempt. At other times it may be because it is not possible to restrict particular persons save by coopting others without whose cooperation success would be impossible. And on occasion it may be necessary in order to control a few to put the liberty of almost everyone into abeyance. Immigration controls are not unique in this respect—the logic of human control is everywhere the same.
Trump's wall would require a large scale exercise of eminent domain—taking property from American citizens in order to accommodate construction and operation of the wall. It would be hugely intrusive (See Somin, who is an expert on eminent domain, HERE). Trump has vowed to discriminate against people based on religion by banning all Muslim visitors to the country. Trump has repeatedly advocated extra judicial violence: for example, he said he would deliberately target family members of terrorists for elimination. “You have to take out their families,” he said last December. He has repeatedly advocated for violence among his followers. Such are the building blocks and raw materials for building a fascist movement.

Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer is not afraid of Trump’s followers. They are wimps, he said: “I don’t see the Olive Garden crowd out in the street getting their heads clocked by the Cleveland cops.” Ultimately, thinks Schutze, Trump is play-acting to an older, white, disaffected GOP primary base. Here he is writing yesterday (May 5, 2016):
The sense of profound psychological and moral dislocation many older white people are feeling now in America feels as if it is related somehow to the surge of popular support for London['s most recent] mayor Boris Johnson and the Brexit campaign and even the rise of a right-wing nativist movement in Poland. They’re not exactly the same, but all of them, very much including Trump, share that powerful tribal element that [Nate] Silver points to. These are bracing times for the old tribes that always used to run things, especially for people whose innermost sense of identity is densely interwoven with ethnicity. And then there’s one more important quality. They haven’t been keeping up.

Old white people like me who have been paying attention might like to tell you — we probably would tell you — that we’ve always been all in, marbles and chalk, for the changes. Maybe. But we’ve also definitely been looking in the mirror most mornings asking ourselves, “What are you going to do about it? Better adjust, Kemosabe. Better adjust.”

The Trump movement is something else. It’s people who didn’t see it coming and can’t adjust. Hence the meltdown. And there is where it all begins to fit together finally. It’s not [Trump's] meltdown we’re looking at. It’s the meltdown of the people voting for him.
What, you think Donald Trump is feeling personally oppressed lately? About what? He’s not rich enough already? While he’s campaigning, he can’t get a new wife? Give me a break. He’s acting out the meltdown for the audience.

Does the audience really believe he can bring back the money and the ethnic privilege? Or do they know he can’t but love him anyway, because he’s rich and he understands them?

He plunges those eerily dancing hands straight into their dark roiling hearts and plucks out the pain. I don’t believe he has any idea himself how he does it, but he’s exactly what Republicans have voted for, because he is exactly what they want. They don’t need no stinking conservative. They need a shaman.
Maybe Schutze is right. Maybe Trump’s voters are just disillusioned old White folks who have failed to adjust. Maybe they are Olive Garden wimps. But give them power, give them a Trump presidency? If that happens will the worst (but capable) sorts rise to the top, egged on and enabled by the Olive Garden crowd? And Trump? Having conjured up these forces, would he run with them? Why did the guy have Hitler speeches on his nightstand?

President Obama assures us the American electorate will ultimately do the right thing. I believe him. Still, Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Horizon Investments, gives Trump a one in three chance of becoming our next president.

Since 1824 (when they started tracking) no president has been elected with more than 61.05 percent of the popular vote. That high water mark honor goes to Lyndon Johnson. The spread in polling between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as of this writing is just seven percentage points of the popular vote. According to the Cook Political Report, even in this most dismal of political years, the Republican party starts off with a presumed tally of 190 votes (of 270 needed to win) in the Electoral College. A blow-out in November is not assured. We may be one ill-timed terrorist attack, or one new scandal away from a Trump presidency.

The time to get serious worried is now, because who knows what mischief this man would bring with him to the White House. Maybe the system and inertia would reign him in and nothing untoward would happen. Maybe not. No one should leave this to chance.

No comments:

Post a Comment