Payback time! Will Trump and conservatives crush their foes?

Summary: Op-eds about the Trump administration discuss people and policy, as if Washington were run by Vulcans. They seldom mention the desires for revenge and to crush their foes. What role will these motives play in the actions of Team Trump? Much of the Left’s hysteria is fear that he will to do treat them like they’ve treated the Right. But the situation is more complex than it looks.

This might become conservative’s theme song for the Trump years.

Payback band's official logo

“Many great ones through the ages
have attained to earthly power.
Yet they all but had their hour,
…Still the mill wheel turns, it turns forever,
though what is uppermost remains not so.
The water underneath in vain endeavor
does the work but always stays below.

— From Bertolt Brecht’s “Ballad of the Mill Wheel”. See this book of his work.

For decades liberals have maintained the moral high ground due to their hold on key institutions in academic and government. They deployed this power to delegitimize conservatives, calling them deniers, racists, anti-Semitic, and sexists — often with little or no factual basis. It worked well for years, but even the sharpest sword dulls with overuse. Liberals unleashed fifteen months of invective on Trump, a hate bombardment with few precedents in US history. It failed.

Now the wheel turns, as Trump brings new players to Washington who don’t respect the game as it has evolved since the 1960’s. Now comes the opportunity for the GOP to get payback. Much of the Left’s hysteria about Trump comes from their fear that he will do to them what they’ve done to conservatives during the past few decades. But the situation is more complex than it looks.

First, there is an element of revenge. The GOP Congress could defund the climate scientists who attacked and mocked them (leaving untouched the immediately valuable weather forecasters). Congress and the President could investigate Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation as persistently and irrationally as they did the Benghazi Benghazi BENGHAZI incident. Congress and the President could uproot the social justice warriors in the Federal bureaucracy, ending their crusades (e.g., against the fake “campus rape culture”). This could be a long list.

Second, striking back at foes is sound political strategy. Game theory shows that Tit for Tat is among the most effective strategies in situations like politics. Gandhi and Jesus provide wonderful ideals, but it is not necessarily survivable advice for the life in Washington.


Third, attacking opponents is a necessary step to win. Leaving liberal apparatchiks in power, rooted in America’s government and academic institutions, means that any respite from their influence is temporary — that their work creates a ratchet. Evolution can only run to the Left unless their power is broken. Unless they are broken, as they have broken so many others.

Conservatives have a level of power in America not seen since the 1920’s. Using that to attack their enemies could have large effects both today and on America’s future. But those who will decide what to do know there is a second side to the coin. There always is a second side.

“{Wrath} is sweeter by far than the honeycomb…,
And spreads through the hearts of men.”
— Homer quoted by Aristotle in his Rhetoric.

Instead nothing will be done

The logic above is that of the political strategists whose words dominate op-ed pages and the journals of political scientists. But practicing politicians have more immediate goals. They hold office for a brief time, and have to accumulate money and influence while they can. That means giving powerful special interests what they want. More defense spending for the military-industrial-complex. Crushing unions and gutting regulations for businesses. Deregulating the banks. Even extremely unpopular policies such as privatizing Medicare. These are the actions that produce career benefits.

Revenge is fun and produces cheers from the fans. The long-term benefits to society — from shifting the ideological basis of society — accrue to others. But doing favors for the 1% pays well.

What will our new leaders in Washington choose to focus on, revenge or profits? I’ll bet they go for the money.

Explaining the results of Campaign 2016

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about the Republican Party, reforming America: steps to new politics, Campaign 2016, and especially these…

  1. Now is the time for America to get angry.
  2. In “Network”, Howard Beale asks us to get mad and do something. He’s still waiting.
  3. A simple thing you can do to start the reform of America: get angry.
  4. How can we arouse a passion to reform America in the hearts of our neighbors?
  5. Should we risk using anger to arouse America?

11 replies »

  1. This is a whole new day, largely thanks to Obama. The old money first, foremost, last, and always paradigm may well be broken this time around the wheel. After all, that happens now and again and within certain frameworks of inputs and takeoffs that are similar to our current state.


    • jonolan,

      “The old money first, foremost, last, and always paradigm may well be broken this time”

      Perhaps. My guess is that Trump will do what he promised, and prioritized actions to booster the income and power of the rich. Most importantly, cut either taxes and deregulate their most powerful instruments, the banks. More 1%-friendly actions will follow.


  2. Umberto Eco’s Essay Ur-Fascism is a check list for modern fascism, reading down through it, it is clear that most of them are feverently desired by many Americans and Europeans. Add to that the approval figures for the military and police, and the cementing of the Imperial presidency, first by Bush, latterly by Obama, what picture start to emerge?

    If Trump will be Sulla, who will be Caesar.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your right, maybe this close to the action it is difficult to make out a clear picture of reality.
    From here in Europe it is obvious that something is afoot. First is the eroding of the American security blanket. Second is the attempted levering apart of the EU by the Russians, soon to be joined by the British. I firmly believe that the British will fall back into there traditional habit of keeping Europe as divided as possible. Even when they were part of the EU that was there unspoken policy. With this is the self inflicted diminution of EU prestige via austerity (what were they thinking!) I’m not sure it will survive.
    There is the rise within the states within the EU of an illiberal democracy, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, possibly Moldavia. There are plausible contenders in France, parts of Italy, Austria, to a lesser degree Germany and Holland. Not fascism, not yet… When you start to go bald, its one hair at a time, and there is no one point where you are bald, just one day you are bald.

    Then there is Trump. I agree with you that the hysteria is ridiculous, and I take a certain grim satisfaction in the hysterical reaction of the celebrity/twitter/feminist left. Its not the fate of transgender bathrooms that concerns me. In that list of 14 characteristics of fascism I detected 9, arguably 10 that I feel were part of Trumps run. He appealed to fascist tendencies and enough voters responded to make wonder about the nature of the glide path from Democracy to illiberal democracy to authoritarianism to fascism. Now its not fascism yet, but when is bald, Bald?

    You have probably seen this, the front page of the Daily mail, Britian’s biggest selling paper .
    Those judges ruled that Parliament was sovereign, and must be give a vote on the terms of brexit.


    Liked by 1 person

    • merocaine,

      I agree that the really interesting — potentially revolutionary — action is in Europe. Europeans commenting about the US are imo just projecting their fears on us. As you note, the Brexit debate is similar to those that ignited Britain’s first Civil War — but this time the challenge is to Parliament’s sovereignty, not the Crown’s.

      Eco’s essay is profoundly ignorant of US history, typical of an intellectual staring at his navel and drawing conclusions about the world (no need for actual knowledge!). Most of those traits were true in 1820. His analysis would be interesting if he showed changes in US society which suggest increased odds of fascism.


  4. I agree the commentary about the US in Europe is to be avoided, they mostly seem to be reactions of a spoilt child.
    Things are spiraling in Europe, in most of the EU there is no democratic past to fall back on, just a few years post communism. There past is a jumble of monarchy, authoritarianism, and finally fascism and communism. Now that there is some pressure, what will happen?

    But one point, the essay was from 1994 and seemed to be fully directed at Europe rather than the US. It was more about how to spot fascist ideology at work, rather than screaming Hitler every time a right winger is elected.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. They will crush their Foes by going for the Money and maybe partially successfully, maybe not. Just moderately successful.
    Recall Trump single handedly detroyed the entire Republican establishment during the run up.
    Also Hillary was THE candidate of the entire stars quo! They tried as remarked here for 15 months to destroy DJT and left out any discussion of Issues(?ha) and Lost!

    Dems are lost……a party of Martha’s Vineyards and liberal enclaves and PC ladies shored up by weak men.
    Repubs? are aliens like Cruz and Rubio soon to arise?
    There is no Left in America except for the hardy souls who utilize the Legal profession to fight the skirmishes that are essential for the futures.
    Elections are only as important as the laws and regulations that come next.

    Let’s wait awhile and watch the 10 year T Bill.



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