The Left goes hysterical over Trump, giving him a free ride as President

Summary: The Left’s hysterical reaction to Trump’s win is good news for him, since doubling down on what failed in the election eliminates them as an effective opposition. It’s bad news for America, allowing Trump enact unpopular far-right policies and rolling back years or decades of hard won progress.

Odd that these fears didn’t defeat Trump.

Donald Trump's nuclear threat

We face a new stresses as Trump moves into the White House, one of America’s least qualified Presidents. The Left has gone hysterical, which is bad news for America — guaranteeing that Trump will have little effective opposition.

For example, I respect the professors who write at Guns, Lawyers, and Money — but they’ve lost their minds. Erik Loomis (asst prof history, U RI) — whom I greatly respect — says he expects to be put in a concentration camp (e.g., here, here, and here). Meanwhile, the posts at LGM (and even more so the commenters) try to outdo themselves in predictions of the fascist era coming soon — despite the experts who say the comparison is weak or bogus. Trump’s statements in 2015-16 are not remotely equivalent to those of Hitler in 1930-31.

Professor Loomis also says “I don’t actually have confidence that we will have a functional democracy by 2020.” Ezra Klein gives us a similar, and equally unfounded, warning: “Imagine if he were to refuse to accept the outcome of the next election once he is the president, and after he has appointed loyalists to control America’s security apparatus.” Their usual evidence is that Trump wouldn’t accept the election outcome, much as many on the Left don’t accept Trump’s win.

For another example of the Left’s disinterest in analysis about the election, let alone learning from it, see this election “post-mortem” by artist Beth Spencer at LGM. My favorite part is her anger that “We live in a country awash in misogyny–even lots of women don’t give a shit about the kind of lechery and disrespect Trump exhibited.” Those darned women, not thinking like feminists want them to! (Even in the new order women are told how to think and behave.)

The rise of Trump and the Left’s reaction provides more evidence that there is as yet no “reality based community” in American. Until that changes, I doubt reform is possible. Even effective opposition to Trump might be impossible.

H. L. Mencken

Does Trump’s election represent
a victory for the common people?

I often hear this quoted with respect by Leftists…

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

— H. L. Mencken in the Baltimore Sun, 26 July 1920.

It is the song of aristocrats, plutocrats, and tyrants since ancient Greece. America is the Founders’ gamble that they are wrong. We have had many bad Presidents since 1789, when the Second Republic began. The Republic even survived Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan. Countless times US elites have cried that the public’s failure to obey them meant the end.  Yet still the Republic stands. I’ll bet we will survive Trump.

But if the average American is a “moron” then democracy cannot work — and the sooner we convert to another system, the better.

I objected to this quote when talking to one of the sharpest people I know on the Left. His reply…

The Founders themselves believed democracy didn’t work. By “self government” they a republic ruled by the elites. Representatives in the House were the only Federal government officials elected by the public, and those only by white, male, property-owners. Many of the Constitution’s provisions were designed to support slavery. The edifice created by the Founders collapsed after 70 years.

English and American history is the gradual broadening of the vote from the 17th century. Requirements to pay taxes replaced property ownership, and even those were almost entirely gone by 1830. Everybody knows the story about the further progress in the next 140 years. The Warren Court made the most recent (and perhaps the last) move towards “one citizen, one vote” in Baker v. Carr in 1962 and their follow-up rulings in 1963 & 1964.

Some might consider this a “collapse” of the original edifice. I consider it to be evolution and growth consistent with America’s core principles. Now the GOP is dragging us backwards with their gerrymandering and voter suppression programs. I doubt much can be done to reduce these, let alone the deeper inequalities in Congress and the Electoral College that give some areas far more representation per person than others. Those will require tectonic change, perhaps in a Third Republic.

That the so many on the Left share Mencken’s elitist views reduces their political effectiveness and tends to demotivate them from political activism.

I disagree with Mencken’s belief that us commoners are unable to rule themselves — and his implication that some elites should rule.  Much as the 20th Century tested centrally planned vs. free-market economic systems, I suspect the 21st will test the mass franchise (of “morons” to Mencken) vs. elite-run regimes. Time will tell which works better.

Back to the present, the warm-up to the Trump years

Of course, it is an academic debate today. Mecken’s quote is irrelevant. Trump is no “moron”.

Those who believe that Trump’s election is some kind of coup by the rabble are proven wrong by each of Trump’s appointments (people are policy in Washington). They are plutocrats and political insiders (their far-right servants), all quite competent. So far there’s not a single populist among them.

  • Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessons (R-AL).
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services: Representative Tom Price (R-GA), determined to strip health care from millions of Americans.
  • Secretary of Education is billionaire Betsy DeVos, determined to gut American public education.
  • Secretary of Transportation: Elaine Chao, wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and daughter of shipping magnate James S.C. Chao (she has received tens of millions from her parents). She was Bush Jr.’s Secretary of Labor, running a standard right-wing shop.
  • Secretary of Commerce: billionaire Wilbur Ross, a former investment banker at Rothschild & Co.
  • Secretary of the Treasury: the plutocrat (perhaps a billionaire) Steven Mnuchin, a second generation Goldman alumnus.

Update:  National Review likes Trump’s team (“This Incoming Cabinet Looks Pretty Darn Good So Far“), definitive evidence that it is the opposite of populist. Trump’s populist statements during the campaign alarmed the hard-core conservatives at National Review. Now they applaud his betrayal of his campaign.

My guess is that Trump will prove both sides wrong, those who expect Trump to govern as a populist and those who expect him to rule as a fascist. There is little evidence for either theory, so far. Expect just another four years of America’s politics shifting to the Right.

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19 thoughts on “The Left goes hysterical over Trump, giving him a free ride as President”

  1. Everybody, including FM, is projecting their hopes and their fears on Trump. They can do this because the man said so many things that contradicted earlier statements that nobody has any idea of what the man will do when he assumes power. That includes me, and may include Trump, by the way.

    So I look instead, not to Trump, but to Congress because Trump needs their assistance to move the government and the country very far. My prediction is that the Democrats will join the Republicans in becoming a very effective party of “No.” Trump’s coattails were nonexistent and the Republicans lost seats in both houses during the last election. Barring black swan events, the Republicans will lose more seats during the mid-term elections. Meanwhile, as I said in an earlier post, the Trump phenomenon is destroying unity in the Republican party. These facts lead me to state that very little, perhaps nothing, will be achieved in the Trump years that needs Congressional support. It is completely possible that we will be down to 6 Supreme Court Justices by 2020.

    Furthermore, I expect that most of Trump’s cabinet picks, (those that get approved by the Senate, which will surely not be all of them) will discover that their President will help them with their personal agendas. They aren’t there to help him govern, they are there to stop political bullets meant for him and are disposable. Trump’s past behavior suggests that he will treat his cabinet like Celebrity Apprentices and make their jobs trivial, at best, while he concentrates power in a handful of people whom he trusts and who do not have to be approved by the Senate.

    It is hard to predict (impossible?) what will happen four years from now but the Left may be right when they say that we will not have a functional democracy. That depends on your definition of the words, in my definition, we are already perilously close to that edge. But it is also quite possible that Trump will be the spur that finally awakens the American voter to the consequences of their actions and brings about the sea change that FM so desperately wants.

    In the meantime, I am watching the Trump rally on the stock market (more desire projection!) with awe (I didn’t think that there were that many gullible people left on Wall Street) and sorrow. This too shall end and I do not expect it to end well for the believers. I fear that far too many believers are from the shredded remnants of the middle class giving their last assets to the Wall Street money machine and taking another spin with the ultimate one-armed bandit in the hopes of winning (not earning) the American Dream. Their losses will help shape the new, emerging America.

    I would greatly admire the bravery of the American voter in choosing Trump if they did not continually choose to go unarmed to the battle of wits with the future.

    1. Pluto,

      “is projecting their hopes and their fears on Trump. ”

      In what sense am I doing so?

      “the Left may be right when they say that we will not have a functional democracy.”

      What evidence is there for that statement, except in the sense that “in four years dinosaurs might again walk the Earth”?

    2. FM: “In what sense am I projecting my hopes and fears on Trump?”

      You do a tremendously better job of avoiding this than a lot of people, for example the writers at Guns, Lawyers, and Money; but statements like “They [Trump’s cabinet picks] are plutocrats and political insiders (their far-right servants), all quite competent” are impossible to prove at this time because, with the exception of Chao, and to a lesser extent Sessions, none of them have proven their competency in a national leadership role. The Peter Principle is a universal truth and I am confident in predicting that at least one of these picks has been promoted way above their level of competency and will make a royal mess of things. It would not surprise me if more than half do so, especially with the lack of support they are going to get from Trump.

      Have you read Jim Fallows comments this morning about the country entering a fact-free zone? He quoted Scottie Nell Hughes, a Trump supporter, who asserted that “there are no such things as facts.” I suspect that is a very perceptive statement and will be the dominant theme of the Trump administration.

      You like facts and you like competency and you look for them everywhere. I respect you for this but in watching the carnival that is Trump, I have become wary of relying on either.

      FM: “What evidence is there that we will not have a functional democracy in four years?”

      The key to my answer is what I mentioned earlier, the definition of a functional democracy depends on the person. But I could waste much ink discussing this, let us look at the opposite. What is the definition of a non-functional democracy?

      Again, I suspect that answers will vary by person. My definition of a non-functional democracy is where one of two things have occurred.
      1) Although elections are continually held, the will of the people rarely changes the actions of the government. We have stood on the outskirts of this since 9/11. For example, Obama morphed into the second coming of George W. Bush in spite of his determination to avoid doing so. Power keeps getting more concentrated in fewer hands which actively work to continue the process. Citizens get demoted to serfs.

      2) The government is unable to keep doing routine but important maintenance chores such as maintaining infrastructure, keeping the judicial system fully staffed, and passing a budget in a reasonable amount of time. This is the more important issue in many ways because it creeps up on you and the effects can be sudden and devastating. We came extremely close to complete failure once and I expect that failure will be a valid option for the Trump administration, particularly after the 2018 mid-term elections.

      1. Pluto,

        “{It is} impossible to prove {Trump’s appointees} at this time because, with the exception of Chao, and to a lesser extent Sessions, none of them have proven their competency in a national leadership role.”

        I did not say they were competent “in a national leadership role”. I said they were competent people. That is a general statement; I believe most readers understood my meaning.

        “Scottie Nell Hughes, a Trump supporter, who asserted that “there are no such things as facts.””

        He probably learned that as an undergraduate. It’s been a core belief of the Left for decades, baked into the curriculums in the humanities and social sciences.

  2. Did you expect to see Trump appoint Joe lunch-bucket to his cabinet. I can not see any cabinet appointment being filled by less than a person who has proven his success in dealing with managing. If he is competent at that then he is more likely than not to be wealthy.

    1. Rukid,

      “Did you expect to see Trump appoint Joe lunch-bucket to his cabinet.”

      I assume you are trolling us, trotting out the “false dilemma” logical fallacy. There is a large gap between “joe lunch bucket” and billionaires. America is filled with accomplished people — many with histories in public service dwarfing that of some of Trump’s plutocrat picks — with populist beliefs.

      I said “So far there’s not a single populist among them.” Throwing such chaff in the air doesn’t conceal that. People are policy in Washington. These people give a basis to predict what comes next.

  3. We may reasonably assume that Trump will not deliberately do anything likely to impair the value of the Trump Organization. That, of course, leaves open the possibility that he may nevertheless blunder. Also, we should not that while Trump himself may not be a populist rabble-rouser, his supporters nevertheless may have been aroused.

    Furthermore, the Democrats appear, if anything, apt to be even more feckless than they have been in recent past.

    As a result, I have changed my appraisal of the overall situation. I used to say that – if the United States were lucky – it would have a government somewhat like the French Third Republic. Now I believe we would do well to have an oligarchic republic resembling Venice.

    1. DC,

      “We may reasonably assume that Trump will not deliberately do anything likely to impair the value of the Trump Organization.”

      What does that mean? You believe he’ll determine all US policy by its affect on the global real estate market? Your evidence for this?

      “we should not that while Trump himself may not be a populist rabble-rouser, his supporters nevertheless may have been aroused.”

      What does that mean? You think his “supporters” will storm Washington to demand populist policies? Do you have any basis for that?

      “the Democrats appear, if anything, apt to be even more feckless than they have been in recent past.”

      In what way? They are minority parties almost everywhere. They are the dominant party in California, and doing quite well.

    2. Methinks, FM, that you know the straw man fallacy and, really, you should heed it.

      If I had wanted to say that Trump would follow the global real estate market, I would have said so. Likewise for populists storming Washington. The Democrat’s recent selection of Pelosi and Schumer as leaders speaks for itself, and if you do not get it, there are others here who do. We don’t know what, precisely, Trump’s business interests are, which is quite an issue. However, we can broadly infer that he would probably not take some rash action that would generally destabilize things.

      There have been widespread reports of Trump’s continuing to pursue his business interests, if you are not impressed by this, I am sure others reading this will get the point. That Trump, who is inexperienced, might blunder is obvious and there have been widespread, if anecdotal, anecdotes of extremist activities by his followers. So caveats that Trump might blunder and that others in the broader Trump movement might act rashly are not surprising.

      1. Your comment makes little sense.

        (1) You said “We may reasonably assume that Trump will not deliberately do anything likely to impair the value of the Trump Organization.” That is largely a global real estate company, and global real estate would be the major transmission belt from global events to affecting Trump Organization.

        (2) “we can broadly infer that he would probably not take some rash action that would generally destabilize things.”

        You’re kidding, right? Why would you think that Trump would take “some rash action that would generally destabilize things”?

        (3) Trump announced that he is “leaving his businesses in total”. The Office of Government Ethics sent a series of Tweets congratulating him for these actions. This is not a surprise to anyone paying attention.

        Trump tweets about business

    3. FM:

      1) We don’t know what Trump’s business actually is.
      2) Global real estate is intertwined with other aspects of the economy, as I’m sure you know.
      3) When I say I don’t think Trump will take rash actions, that does not mean that I do.
      4) You can take Trump’s tweets at face value if you like. Others may disagree.

      1. DK,

        “We don’t know what Trump’s business actually is.”

        That’s quite absurd. We don’t know every aspect, but we know the outlines (i.e., that it is “largely a global RE” firm) from its public actions, voluminous regulatory filings, etc. An organization of that size can’t act in the shadows. His 22 thousand employees have not taken a vow of secrecy.

        “You can take Trump’s tweets at face value if you like. Others may disagree.”

        I’ll side with the relevant government regulator, the Ethics Office — who said Trump’s statements result from their discussions with Trump’s staff. You can “disagree” with them to your heart’s content.

        “some rash action that would generally destabilize things”

        So you said that it in the waste-out-time sense, like “the sun will rise tomorrow”? Not as a conclusions where there was a question about the matter. Sad, but good to know.

    4. Indeed Trump’s organization can’t hide in the shadows and his employees ( of whatever number ) have not taken a vow of secrecy.

      That is interesting and important. Your tweet twaddle is not.

      1. I’ll be clearer: “We don’t know what Trump’s business actually is.” is an obviously false statement. Calling it “twaddel” is a childlike rebuttal.

        We don’t know every aspect of Trump’s business, but public information of its doings (including regulatory filings) and that from his 22,000 employees tells us quite a bit.

    5. You don’t like your tweets being called twaddle? OK, I’ll use you language and call them absurd.

      The following NYT article includes the followng: ““The success of his empire depends on an ability to get credit, to get loans extended to his business entities,” he said. “And we simply don’t know a lot about his financial dealings, here or around the world.”

      While we may not know this, we should note that others are interested: See eg: the following letter to the NYT:

      “To the Editor:

      The possibility that Donald Trump might benefit from his investments while he is in office is perhaps the least important of his potential conflicts of interest. Of more concern might be his willingness to make decisions that would benefit his investments and enterprises, even though he might have put them beyond his direct reach or influence. What is the most troubling is the likelihood that foreign governments will use Mr. Trump’s overseas debts, assets and property as hostages for favorable treatment, or that foreign actions against his properties could influence presidential decisions that go against American interests. It is dismaying that orderly divestiture could take years.

      J.K. GORDON, Chevy Chase, Md.
      The writer is a former Foreign Service officer.”

      Somewhat similarly,. also in the NYT:

      As to who really knows what Trump owns (or how many he employs.) The Trump Organization’s account likely does. Here they are. I hope they have Pentagon quality security systems installed, for this is the sort of thing inquiring minds would like to know:

      1. DC,

        I suspect everybody agrees that Trump’s businesses offer awesome potential for conflict of interest. That is why the Ethics Office was talking with Trump. Their tweets reporting substantial progress (which you appear to discount) are good news. It’s nice of you to show a NYT letter from one those who are worried, but that is not the question we’re discussing. It was a nice attempt to move the pea! But you referring to an unrelated question does not make my comments “absurd”.

        We’ve gone several rounds and you have not offered the slightest evidence in rebuttal to what I’ve said. What’s the point of this?

        “As to who really knows what Trump owns (or how many he employs.) The Trump Organization’s account likely does.”

        This is more of your “the sun will rise tomorrow” information! Thanks!

        “Here they are.”

        Why should I care? That is why we have the US government Ethics Office, professionals who are responsible for such things.

        “I hope they have Pentagon quality security systems installed, for this is the sort of thing inquiring minds would like to know”

        I doubt if the Trump Organization needs DoD-quality security to see that you don’t satisfy your idle curiosity. It’s not relevant to anything we’re discussing here. Foreign governments don’t need Trump’s files to see what assets, liabilities, and employees are in their nation. Also note that Trump has appointed 3 billionaires to his team, some or all of whom probably have substantial overseas exposures. Globalization will make this an increasingly serious problem.

        On the other hand, pressuring senior US officials with personal retribution for their official actions — or attempting extortion and intimidation — are dangerous acts. Most of their exposures are in other developed nations, who are unlikely to risk damaging relations with the US by such a hostile act. Some of those nations that are potentially hazardous — like dealings with Russia — are also heavily regulated by the US, often requiring disclosures to the US govt. It’s a problem, but one everyone involved is aware of — and, from the news, being addressed.

  4. Reblogged this on Utopia – you are standing in it! and commented:
    I think the main lesson the left learned from the last election is still that only if they had called out a few more people as racists, they would have won enough votes back from the deplorables for Clinton to win rather than lose the rust belt.

    Listen up deplorable sounds to them to be an excellent way of asking for a vote.

  5. Pingback: Today’s Must Read: Trump’s win revealed the hollowness of US politics. Stronger leaders will exploit this. | Fabius Maximus website

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