mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“A Reflection Of The Ugliness Within Us”: Defeating Trump Won’t Erase The Forces That Made Him Possible

We should probably start thinking about what we’re going to do after Trump.

Of course, if the nation decides it really does want a vulgar, narcissistic bigot with the impulse control of a sleep-deprived toddler as its 45th president, the options left to thinking Americans will be few, but stark:

Either curl up in a fetal ball for four years or jam the pedal to the metal on the northbound interstate and don’t stop till you see moose. Try to get there before the Canadians build their border wall.

If, however, the more likely scenario prevails and the electorate rejects Donald Trump, we will face a different set of options. The first is to finally take a stand against the forces that brought us here.

Those forces — economic insecurity, ignorance, bigotry and fear — are hardly new. Many observers, this one included, have bemoaned them for years. Trump’s innovation has been to drag the last three into the light, to render dog whistles and codes obsolete with his full-throated, wide-open embrace of all that is ugly and shameful about us.

Assuming his rebuke in November, the natural tendency will be to mop the brow and sigh in relief at the bullet we just dodged. This would be a mistake. Defeating Trump would not erase the forces that made him possible. As the last few years have shown, those forces, like some virulent cancer, tend to redouble after setback and return stronger than before.

You thought George W. Bush was a piece of work? Meet Sarah Palin. You think Sarah Palin was scary? Meet Trump. It would not be a good idea to wait around and see who trumps Donald four years from now. So after Trump, there are things we must do:

  1. Confront economic insecurity. We need to elect leaders who understand that corporations are not people; only people are people and they are struggling. Their wages are stagnant, their finances precarious and the wealth that is supposed to trickle down from the grotesquely overfed money pigs at the top always seems to evaporate en route. It is time for this to change.
  2. Confront ignorance. It is no coincidence Trump is especially popular among the less well-educated. The less you know, the more fearsome and confounding the world can seem, and the more susceptible you are to the authoritarian figure who promises to make everything all right again. Education must be rescued from the anti-science, anti-history, anti-logic, anti-intellect agendas of conservative school boards around the country. Knowing things is important. Facts matter.
  3. Confront bigotry. Stop pretending it doesn’t exist, stop making excuses for it, stop acting as if it will go away if you only ignore it. In our schools, civic groups, mosques, churches and synagogues, we must evolve some form of truth and reconciliation that allows us to walk through disparate pain up to common ground. Only in this way can we diminish the power of bigotry as a cudgel.
  4. Confront fear. Fear is bigotry’s firstborn child. Both are heightened in an era wherein the majority feels itself, its position and prerogatives, under siege by the ascendance of various minorities — racial, religious and sexual. So it becomes ever more important to find strategies that help us to locate in one another our shared humanity.

And oh, yes…

  1. Confront apathy. Vote.

This is how we can change the paradigm, cool the temperature, drain the swamp.

Or we can pretend this temper tantrum, this national nervous breakdown, means nothing once Trump is gone. But to embrace that option is to miss the point. Donald Trump is a reflection of the ugliness within us, but only that. The ugliness itself is ours and we are long overdue to face it.

The day after he is gone would be an excellent time to start.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, March 13, 2016

March 14, 2016 Posted by | Bigotry, Donald Trump, Fearmongering, GOP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Unwilling To Attack Trump In Any Damaging Way”: Republicans Have Forgotten How To Call Trump A Con Man

For about two weeks, until Donald Trump swept another round of elections on Tuesday, Republicans had settled on a line of attack that finally threatened to do him lasting damage. Rather than portray him as a bully or a clown or (disingenuously) as a liberal, they called him a con artist and a manipulator. In a subtle acquiescence to his campaign of demagoguery, they warned Republican voters not to be taken in by his appeals to their fears and biases—not because their fears and biases are unfounded, but because, as a con artist, he couldn’t be counted on to actually address them.

Then, just as quickly, that line of attack disappeared—and was nowhere to be heard at Thursday night’s debate in Miami.

The Republican presidential primary campaign has been bedeviled all along by a collective-action problem that has manifested in various ways. It appeared first as reluctance among frontrunners to attack Donald Trump at all, which created an incentive for other insurgent candidates like Ted Cruz to champion his message. That unorchestrated approach lead other well-positioned candidates to attack one another, and ultimately drove otherwise viable candidates (Scott Walker, Rick Perry) from the campaign earlier than expected.

As the race narrowed, pretenders to the nomination stepped forward, one at a time, to mount anti-Trump attacks on behalf of the entire field. Each one was damaged—most famously Jeb Bush, who dropped out after losing badly in South Carolina. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich survived this process, all hoping to emerge as Trump’s sole competitor for the nomination. But none of them has been able to force the others out. Now, with Trump poised to win the nomination, his competitors are again unwilling to attack Trump in any damaging way.

On Thursday, just days before Trump could effectively end the primary by taking the winner-take-all contests in Ohio and Florida, the collective-action problem manifested as sheer bafflement. For two hours, Trump, who refrained for the first time ever from taunting his rivals, drew almost no sustained criticism.

Acting in a subdued manner may be the greatest con of Trump’s campaign. Trump has essentially admitted it’s an affected disposition—he likes to boast about how presidential he’s capable of behaving when he wants to. And yet suddenly, at the most critical juncture of the race, none of the rivals, who one week ago were happy to call Trump a con man, were willing to implore GOP primary voters to reject him.

Whether this reflects resignation, or a fear of looking ridiculous at the crucial last minute (as Marco Rubio did last month when he suggested Trump had small genitals), it allows Trump to enter the next round of primaries without a cloud of debate-stage negativity hanging over his head.

Should Trump win the nomination, largely as a result of this collective-action problem, he will enter the general-election campaign crippled. He is fatally unpopular with female voters and minorities, and not nearly popular enough with white men to close the gap.

Many liberals fear the prospect of Trump’s nomination, because they worry his feigned populism will expand the electorate in ways that might allow him to win. They assume, with good reason, that the Republican Party (or large segments of it) will reconcile itself to his nomination, and that by closing ranks, the people who now say #NeverTrump will help propel him to victory.

It is far, far likelier that Trump will lose the general election by a larger margin than Democrats deserve. When that happens, Republicans will relearn how to call Trump a con man. To anyone who will listen, they will disclaim him as a fluke—a skilled entertainer who ran an infomercial-like campaign and swindled Republicans into supporting him. They will see it as the path of least resistance, the only argument they can make to avoid reckoning with the fact that the Trump phenomenon is actually the product of years of Republican maximalism and apocalyptic rhetoric.

The challenge for everyone else will be to remind them of nights like tonight—when, faced with the prospect of a bigoted demagogue taking over their party, they said nothing.

 

By: Brian Beutler, The New Republic, March 11, 2016

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fearmongering, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Donald Trump And The End Of Civility”: Rejecting The Virtues Of Teamwork, Common Courtesy And Civility

For a decade we have seen article after article, study after study, comment after comment on the death of civility in our politics. Politicians, pundits and academics worried that gridlock and the paralysis of Washington was heavily due to the nastiness of the political culture and the vitriol inherent in today’s politics.

Well, as Donald Trump might say – you ain’t seen nothing yet!

My friend, Ira Shapiro, wrote a terrific book, “The Last Great Senate,” about the accomplishments of the civil and functional U. S. Senate that we were both privileged to be a part of a few decades ago. Whether it was the Panama Canal treaties, passage of environmental legislation or social security reform, Republicans and Democrats actually worked together, forged compromises and got the people’s business done.

But as Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann chronicled in their book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks,” published in 2012, the rise of tea party extremists and hard-right ideologues has polarized and paralyzed our constitutional system of government.

And now in 2016, we have Donald Trump, who would make Ornstein and Mann’s world of just a few years ago look like patty-cake. Trump, and many of his colleagues in this race who have followed his lead, has debased the dialogue and engaged in trash talk that would make a pro football player blush. It has truly spiraled out of control.

Facts and logical argument are cast to the wind like confetti; nasty statements about body parts are common and invective like “stupid,” “idiot,” “lightweight,” “choker,” “loser” are used by Trump in nearly every speech and press conference.

No one is writing about a return to civility so long as Trump has seized the stage, forcing a dialogue that has taken American politics even further down into the gutter. In fact, Trump has left many people who should be speaking out speechless instead. Now Republicans and conservative columnists are shaking their heads and wondering why the other candidates and Republican Party leadership have kept their heads in the sand for so long. A flood of pieces by the likes of David Brooks and George Will spell it out perfectly: talking about “the governing cancer” and Trump’s “demagogic cynicism and anti-constitutional authoritarianism.”

But I fault those Republicans and conservative pundits who clearly should have been focusing on this transformation from a government that governed and legislators who legislated into a collection of talking heads whose constant desire is to be on gladiator-TV. Or to give a speech that incites a crowd. Many of them embraced the tea party and chose demagoguery over dialogue.

What has happened to words such as thoughtful, wise, substantive, open-minded and even educated, learned and knowledgeable to describe those in the arena of politics and government? Why are those not the standards we use to judge our leaders?

I am left with the enduring cover image from The New Yorker a number of weeks ago, showing a television set with Donald Trump raging and Presidents Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy and Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt looking on in horror.

This is no longer amusing nor something that should be passed off as entertainment. This is not “The Apprentice” or some reality television show. This is real.

If we allow a person like Donald Trump to capture the Republican Party, let alone the country, the price we will pay will be lasting, and the damage will be serious and permanent. This is so far from anything we have experienced; that it has no parallel in our history. He is not, as he says, building a new expanded Republican Party. This “movement” is based on fear and loathing, racism and prejudice, xenophobia and hatred. It is based on our basest instincts, not on our best instincts. It is destructive, not constructive.

With a Trump ascendancy, common courtesy and civility will be considered weaknesses and the politics of irrationalism and fear will triumph. That must not happen.

 

By: Peter Fenn, Democratic Political Strategist and Head of Fenn Communications; U. S. News and World Report, March 3, 2016

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fearmongering, GOP Presidential Candidates, Governing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I’m No Math Genius, But…”: In Elections, Addition is Always Better Than Subtraction

In the November/December 2015 issue of the Washington Monthly, I wrote a review of Stanley Greenberg’s book America Ascendant. One of the main points Greenberg makes is to outline a reform agenda that Democrats should embrace to win the support of white working class voters.

Greenberg provides polling and focus group data to show strong support from Americans (not just Democrats or Republicans) for the following items: Americans want to protect Medicare and Social Security. They want paid sick days, and access to affordable child care for working mothers and families. They want equal pay for women. They want an affordable college education. And, finally, they want long-term infrastructure investment to rebuild America and create middle-class jobs, while raising taxes on the very rich so they pay their fair share.

I was reminded of that when I read an article by Phillip Rucker and Robert Costa about how Republicans – especially Trump and Cruz – are pinning their presidential hopes on wooing white working class voters. But they have a totally different approach.

Trump is making the most visceral, raw appeal to people who feel left out of the economic recovery and ignored by the political establishment. He espouses hard-line views on immigration that border on nativism, protectionist trade policies and a tough approach with countries like China, Japan and Mexico that he portrays as thieves of U.S. manufacturing jobs…

Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said the candidate’s words for the working class are deliberately personal. “People don’t feel like these jobs have disappeared,” he said. “They’ve been stolen, and they don’t mind if someone is speaking forcefully about taking them back for blue-collar Americans…”

“None of [the candidates] are saying what they should be saying — ‘Get them out of here’ — except Trump,” said Tim Labelle, 73, a retired auto mechanic who voted for Obama in 2008. “They’re taking our jobs, and they’re gonna take over our whole country if we don’t put an end to it.”

Interestingly enough, Mitt Romney is suggesting another approach – one more in line with what Greenberg outlined.

“As a party we speak a lot about deregulation and tax policy, and you know what? People have been hearing that for 25 years, and they’re getting tired of that message,” Romney said in a recent interview. He added, “I think we’re nuts not to raise the minimum wage. I think, as a party, to say we’re trying to help the middle class of America and the poor and not raise the minimum wage sends exactly the wrong signal.”

So the question becomes: what is the more effective strategy for appealing to white working class voters? Is it the one focused on a nativist appeal or the one that addresses their real economic challenges?

The advantage of the former is that it is animated by emotions – fear and anger – as opposed to a more thoughtful appeal to reason. That carries a lot of currency these days apparently. But to the extent that it might be successful immediately, it is destined to be a problem over the long term. That is because it is, by definition, an either/or formulation that is built on an us/them divide. The more candidates like Trump and Cruz embrace an appeal based on wooing white working class voters by denigrating people of color, the “whiter” their party becomes. That does not bode well given our country’s rapidly changing demographics.

On the other hand, the reform agenda outlined by Greenberg and the proposal Romney embraced about raising the minimum wage are just as appealing to the rising American electorate as they are to white working class voters. In that way, it is focused on a both/and rather than an either/or. I’m no math genius, but when it comes to winning elections, I’m smart enough to know that addition is always more effective than subtraction.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, January 14, 2016

January 14, 2016 Posted by | Economic Recovery, Fearmongering, Middle Class, White Working Class | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Deliberately Trying To Dupe Voters”: Why The GOP’s Fence Fantasy Is A Farce

A long time ago, in a not-so-faraway land, a civilization existed that was governed through a fairly rational political system. Even conservative candidates for high office had to have a good idea or two — and be quasi-qualified.

That land was the USA. It still exists as a place, but these days, Republican candidates don’t even have to be qualified — much less sane — to run for the highest office in the land. All they need is the backing of one or more billionaires, a hot fear-button issue to exploit and a talent for pandering without shame to the most fanatical clique of know-nothings in their party. Also, they must be able to wall themselves off from reality, erecting a wall of political goop around their heads so thick that even facts and obvious truth cannot get through to them.

Indeed, the GOP’s “One Great Issue” of the 2016 campaign for president is: The Wall. Ted Cruz practically snarls when he declares again and again that he’ll “build a wall that works.” Marco Rubio is absolute about it: “We must secure our border, the physical border, with a wall, absolutely.” And Donnie Trump has basically built his campaign atop his fantasy of such an imperial edifice: “We’re going to do a wall,” he commands, as though he’s barking at one of his hotel construction crews.

There are, of course, certain problems that you might expect them to address, such as the exorbitant cost of the thing, the extensive environmental damage it’ll do, and the futility of thinking that people aren’t clever enough to get around, over, under or through any wall. But don’t hold your breath waiting for any common sense to intrude on their macho posturing.

Trump even made a TV ad depicting hordes of marauding Mexicans invading our country — proof that a huge wall is necessary! Only, the film footage he used is not of Mexican migrants, but of Moroccans fleeing into Spain. But after all, when trying to stir up fear of foreigners, what the hell does honesty have to do with it?

A proper wall, we’re told, makes good neighbors. But an 18-foot high, 2,000-mile-long wall goes way beyond proper, and it both antagonizes your neighbor and screams out your own pitiful fear and weakness.

Besides, haven’t we been trying this for years? With the Secure Fence Act of 2006, Congress mandated construction of a wall along the 1,954 miles of our border with Mexico. A decade later, guess how many miles have been completed? About 650. It turns out that erecting a monstrous wall is not so simple after all.

First, it becomes prohibitively expensive — about $10 billion just for the materials to build it from the tip of Texas westward to the Pacific, not counting labor costs and maintenance. Second, there’s the prickly problem of land acquisition — to erect the scattered segments of the first 650 miles of fence, the federal government had to sue hundreds of property owners to take their land. Odd, isn’t it, that right-wing politicos who loudly rail against overreaching Big Government now favor using government muscle to grab private property? Third, it’s impossible to fence the whole border — hundreds of miles of it are in the Rio Grande’s flood plain, and more miles are on the steep mountainous terrain of southern Arizona.

Trump, Cruz, Rubio and the other “just build a wall” simpletons either don’t know what they’re talking about or are deliberately trying to dupe voters. Before you buy a 2,000-mile wall from them, take a peek at the small part already built — because of the poor terrain and legal prohibitions, it’s not one long fence, but a fragment here, and another there, with miles of gaps in between. Anyone wanting to cross into the U.S. can just go to one of the gaps and walk around the silly fence.

 

By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, January 13, 2015

January 14, 2016 Posted by | Fearmongering, GOP Presidential Candidates, Mexico Border Wall | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: