Summary: How much Trump accomplishes will depend in part by how effectively the Left opposes him. A few on the Left have seen the essential element for success, but overall their early responses suggest that the Left will remain dysfunctional. Perhaps a few years in the political wilderness will bring new insights to them. But they are some hopeful signs out there…
The Left’s response to Trump is fantasy, making effective resistance impossible.
To see the Left’s (broadly speaking) response to Trump, look at the social scientists writing at Lawyers, Guns, and Money. It suggests that the Left will be incapable of mounting an effective defense. For a start, there is refusal to accept the election result (as they predicted Trump would if he lost).
“In other words, by taking full advantage of various combinations of judicial skullduggery, journalistic malpractice, and foreign intrigue the GOP has pretty much flat-out stolen two of the last five presidential elections …”
— “The fraud against America” by Paul Campos (Prof of Law, U Co – Boulder).
How will they follow-up? By doubling-down on the tactics that failed in the election. Such as accusing Trump of being another Hitler (as was Bush Jr. and Obama). See “Do Something” by Erik Loomis (asst prof of history, U RI).
“We have two choices in the Trump era. You can fight back. Or you can live your everyday life and acquiesce. People have long wondered how the German people let Hitler take over their nation. We are living how it happened. Too many people just decided to put their heads down and go on with their daily lives. You must not do that.”
I respect Professor Loomis and his work, but this comparison of Trump with Hitler is absurd for two reasons. First, Hitler did not just walk into Berlin. He took power in 1932 after 12 years of development. The Nazi party was founded in 1920. Hitler staged the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 and published Mein Kampf in 1925. This is unlike anything in Trump’s history.
Second, there is little basis for these claims. Experts have debunked claims that Trump is like Hitler and that he is a fascist. Trump’s appointees are neither revolutionaries nor fascists. They have standard conventional backgrounds and typical conservative (often right-wing) views; most are either rich, CEOs, generals, or elected or appointed officials of the Federal government. They look nothing like the experienced revolutionaries that Hitler brought with him into the Chancellor’s office.
- senior elected officials (Mike Pompeo ,Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jeff Sessions, Tom Price, Nikki Haley, Terry Branstad, Scott Pruitt, Rick Perry, Ray Zinke, Mick Mulvaney),
- experienced government officials (John Bolton, Kathleen McFarland, Don McGahn, Elaine Chao),
- generals (Michael Flynn, James Mattis, John F. Kelly, Keith Kellogg)),
- rich businessmen, mostly CEOs and billionaires (Todd Ricketts, Andrew Puzder, Linda McMahon, Rex_Tillerson),
- senior bankers and financial service CEOs (Gary Cohn, Wilbur Ross, Steven Mnuchin), ,Vincent Viola),
- businesspeople (Seema Verma, Ben Carson),
- senior political officials (Reince Priebus),
- Republican activists (Betsy DeVos), and
- Steve Bannon — OK, he might have fascist tendencies.
People are policy in America. Trump has assembled a competent team to drag America to the right, rolling back the New Deal and taking America back to the plutocracy of the Gilded Age. This is unlike fascism; in some ways it is the opposite of fascism. (It is also the opposite of populism. Tens of millions voted for Trump expecting to get a populist revolution. They were conned.)
For a year the Left has bombarded America with claims that Trump is a fascist, even a Nazi. The Left risk losing its remaining credibility if Trump fails to live up to their predictions of fascism.
Tactically, they are gearing up to defend against policies unlike those Team Trump are likely to advocate. For more about this sad story, perhaps having such large effects, see The Left goes hysterical over Trump, giving him a free ride as President and Can the Left adapt to the Trump era? Watch their climate activists for clues.
Advocacy for action
For a decade I have attributed America’s political dysfunction to the growing apathy and passivity of its citizens, and written about the futility of becoming informed. For example see Politics in modern America: A users’ guide for journalists and reformers.
The outer party wants simple stories of good guys and bad guys that explain events. Cheer our team! Thrill at tales of the bad guys’ dastardly deeds! They want stories that provide entertainment and catharsis plus a sense of belonging to a community (more accurately a virtual tribe). Politically ineffectual, they want to believe themselves engaged. So they consume information (becoming well-informed) and write posts or comments (21st C letters to the editor). They are fans cheering and booing political actors, writing fan fiction.
This explains American’s disinterest in experts’ past record of failed predictions and bad advice. What we read need not be accurate since we have no intent to use this information. A collector of maps doesn’t ask if the maps are correct; they want pretty maps — with colorful dragons on edges. Only those navigating to a destination demand accurate charts.
I advocate that we become more politically active — everyone choosing their own path, trusting that together we will find solutions. Professor Loomis has, after years of blogging, come to a similar conclusions (same post as above) — although addressed only to his tribe).
“This blog serves as a community to its commenters and an outlet for its writers. That’s great. But it’s not really resistance. On the other hand, I am going to try and make it part of the resistance for one post by organizing you readers into action. Right now, you have a choice to make that you will have to live with the rest of your lives. Will do you do something – ANYTHING – to stop the Trump administration from destroying everything we love about this country?”
It is well expressed, and should inspire us all. The forces eroding away the Republic are opposed by a majority of Americans, as shown by countless surveys. But we have allowed our elites to divide us into tribes, each led by a faction of our elites — and serving their ends. Some factions of our elites — such as the defense and banking industries — have both major tribes serving their interests.
But this order is breaking apart. The Occupy and Tea Party movements, although ultimately futile (because unwilling to have leaders), revealed rising dissatisfaction with American politics and a willingness to stand together. The Sanders and Trump insurgencies were next steps in this still inchoate political reformation. Realization that the Trump candidacy was a con will be more fuel for this fire.
Who knows what we can accomplish if we mobilize? Many chapters of America’s story lie ahead.
(1) Another example of a certain-to-fail criticism of Team Trump: “Trump’s Labor Secretary Pick Is a Gross Misogynist, Really Into Hot Women in Bikinis” by Christina Cauterucci at the XX Factor section of Slate. It’s beyond parody.
(2) An excellent analysis by Professor Loomis: “Declining Upward Mobility“. The below excerpt points to a possible successful futures for the Left. See the comments, suggesting that the Left is politically dead in its current configuration (self-defining themselves as the good and wise in a nation of a**holes, to whom they say f**k you).
“And this is why I simply don’t get why people are so completely dismissal of the economic problems of this region turning voters toward Trump. While, once again, Trump’s victory is by no means entirely or even primarily because of the economic anxiety suffered by the white working class, there’s no question that in these states, it played a critical factor in swinging some voters over to him.
“They knew Hillary Clinton had no real answer for them (and lets face it, she didn’t. Neither did Obama) because the Democratic Party could never come up with a solution for the loss of good union jobs in these states. Trump just flat out lied to them. But economic mobility in these states is particularly horrible, in no small part because the government has not engaged in the type of regional economic planning necessary to guide these states out of deindustrialization. So it’s hardly surprising that voters there would find any possible alternative something to run with, especially when that alternative made them feel empowered with white supremacy.”
(3) See Loomis’ follow-up “How to Do Something“.
For More Information
- Three big things to expect from the Trump era.
- Will Trump and conservatives inflict payback on their foes?
- Trump and the 1% lead America back to its past, to its roots.
- Here’s the news about Team Trump. See the promises fade away.
- See the warnings about Trump’s infrastructure plan. It’s betraying populism.
- Trump prepares for a strong military response to jihadists. We’ll win anyway.
- Trump assembles a Strategic and Policy Forum to better hear the 1%.