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.
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.
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.
For More Information
- Watch other nations build infrastructure for 21st C prosperity. We can, too.
- Here’s the news about Team Trump. See the promises fade away.
- See the warnings about Trump’s infrastructure plan. It’s betraying populism.