March 21, 2016

Gov't Of the Trump, By the Trump, and For the Trump

My fascination with Trump is certainly not with Trump himself.

But what is fascinating is the hoodwinking of a huge segment of the Republican party "faithful".  It's a measure of what our country is becoming, of attitudes and mores that touches on everything: social media, race, the entertainment-ization of politics, conservative media failures, immigration politics, religious decline, victimization politics, the fear the country seems in the grip of, economic malaise and the splitting of a large segment of the middle class into lower middle class... It's a cornucopia of impacts and reactions and unintended consequences.

Two prisms from which to look at it: economics and the desire of moderates and some conservatives to play the game as liberals do.

1. Economics: Ohio went for Trump in the counties where poverty is highest (Appalachian) and the root cause of Trumpism could be when factory and other good blue collar jobs went away.  I thought years ago that would kill us as a country.  Capitalism's fatal flaw is that it has no mechanism for providing jobs that fit a given workforce. Not everyone is called to be a accountant.  And capitalism spurs consumer wants and thus consumer debt, creating a viscous cycle of people saving less at the same time jobs wither away.

Ronald Reagan once said, "The Founding Fathers knew a government can’t control the economy without controlling people.”  That now seems a quaint notion that gets to the heart of it - people now expect government to run the economy. You're judged on how many jobs you “create”. It explains the popularity of Bernie Sanders on the Left, and Trump in our party. People ultimately want government to do something it's constitutionally and financially unable to do: to save the middle class. The problem with saving the middle class is there's just too many of us.  Once a given economic pain threshold is met, the country lurches left much as it did during FDR and the Depression.

2. Play like liberals: As far as resetting the terms of the national debate, there's a desire to get into the liberal game.  The following, from a Russell Kirk biography, is interesting in light of how Trump sans opprobrium mentioned FDR's internment of Japanese Americans:
[Russell] Kirk ...saw the internment of Japanese Americans as the logical consequence of nationalism (liberal or conservative) and progressivism. “And even when bullying became actual maltreatment, and thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent were thrown into ‘relocation centers,’ without any charges against them,” he brutally asked later in 1953, “how many liberals protested?” When the liberals speak of liberties, he continued, they really mean “friendliness toward the rights of collectivists” and "absolute freedom for 'liberals' of their own kind." 
The Trump playbook is bullying those against him and you could rewrite that last sentence as: "When [Trump] speaks of liberties, he really means friendliness towards the rights of whites and Christians and absolute freedom for 'conservatives' of his own kind."

Of course liberals abhor the idea of conservatives trying to gain purchase on their turf, much as they save especial outrage for black conservatives or women pro-lifers. Most of the Trump voters I know fit in the demographic of older white men.  But one young millennial family member sent me this in light of recent events (the left's protests, threats):
[Trump is] unsavory. But the fascist attempts to silence his message (nationalism and mercantilism?) by the left at large are really unsettling. Part of me hopes he wins just to vent my spleen. It’s so troubling how free speech is conditional. Screw them.
I doubt I can bring myself to do it, but I get it.

I got to thinking how it's ironic that as politicians become more and more data savvy, voters less so. Companies (and major league baseball for that matter) have become increasingly enmeshed with“Big Data”, into quantifying and measuring and making more objective decisions, while the American voter has seemingly become less “data-literate”.

Kasich is a “kase” in point. Nobody can touch his numbers as governor. Obviously unemployment rates and wage rises are the result of many forces... But it is at least more objective than, "I like so-and-so because of they smile a lot and I'd like to have a beer with them."

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