As we start a new era, see the similarities between Obama and Trump

Summary: America has begun a new era with a new president. The similarities between Obama in 2008 and Trump today are remarkable. More precisely, between how we saw Obama and see Trump, with the Left and Right swapping roles. Perhaps another 4 or 8 years of crushing disappointment will teach us lessons we failed to learn from Obama. Then the reform of America can begin.

“It’s agreed. Different presidents, same script for America!”

Trump and Obama

Tens of millions of Americans believed Obama was not a legitimate President, being born outside the USA (Wikipedia). Tens of millions of Americans believe that President Trump is not a legitimate President due to Russian interference in the election; large numbers believe Trump is an agent of Russia (stories have him compromised in a variety of different ways).

The parallels go deeper. Obama won the presidency campaigning as The One bringing “hope and change”. Trump won the presidency (with a minority in the popular vote) making a wide range of big populist promises — many of which will be difficult or impossible to fulfill (e.g., boosting employment in manufacturing, and rebalancing trade with China). Neither entered office with a plan to fulfill their promises.

A look at the Obama administration

Obama delivered on some of his promises, most notably by enacting ObamaCare, expanding the war in Afghanistan (unsuccessfully), and various Leftist social policies. On some he failed to deliver, such as closing the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay. He betrayed his followers on many key issues: the banker-friendly bailout (esp. allowing mass foreclosures using perjury and forgery, illegal assassination of an American citizen, increased illegal domestic surveillance, and the promised “most transparent administration” (staging an unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers, including use of the Espionage Act).

The Right went bonkers during the Obama years, with fantasies about Obama as Hitler — and the horrific deeds he would do. Sales of firearm soared during Obama’s years, as they prepared for Obama’s mass confiscation of guns. There are scores much nightmares that convative leaders used to terrify and so mobilize their flocks. For a partial list see Brian Tashman’s “Ten Right-Wing Predictions About Obama That Never Came True“.

About the coming Trump era

“Remember that the first person Donald Trump killed due to his presidency was Sharon Jones.” {Source.}

— She died on November 18 at age 60 of pancreatic cancer (NYT). The source of the rumor was an LAT story: “Jones, Roth said in an interview Saturday, suffered a stroke on Nov. 8 — election night — as she was watching the returns. …’She told the people that were there that Trump gave her the stroke,’ said Roth, laughing.”

Both aspects of these aspects of the Obama era are likely to repeat in the next four years, with Left and Right swapping places in this dance. Those hoping for populist reforms are dreaming. People are policy in Washington, and Trump has appointed a bog-standard far-right wing team. Meanwhile the Left has gone bonkers, screaming fantasies of a fascist revolution — including Trump’s mass imprisonment of his enemies and calling off the 2020. Every day their fantasies get wilder, doubling down on the fear barrage the failed so spectacularly during the election campaign.

“When one starts with ‘issuing a new decree’, it’s clear one has neither understanding nor respect for Constitutional separation of powers.” {Source.}
— Every President has used executive orders as a powerful tool (they are “decrees”).

What will happen in 2020 if the Left’s forecasts of fascism prove false, and instead of NAZIs we get traditional conservatism (i.e., rolling back the New Deal, a stronger plutocracy)? Will their years of wild unsupported predictions discredit them as a serious alternative government? They have wagered their credibility.

Experts say Trump has a narcissistic & authoritarian personality!

psychiatry

“On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.

“The ‘Goldwater Rule’” in The Principles of Medical Ethics: With Annotations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry, 2001 Edition.

The Goldwater Rule: Why breaking it is Unethical and Irresponsible.”

By Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., Ph.D. at the American Psychiatric Assn website.
3 August 2016. Red emphasis added.

“Since 1973, the American Psychiatric Association and its members have abided by a principle commonly known as “the Goldwater Rule,” which prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions on someone they have not personally evaluated. The rule is so named because of its association with an incident that took place during the 1964 presidential election. During that election, Fact magazine published a survey in which they queried some 12,356 psychiatrists on whether candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater, the GOP nominee, was psychologically fit to be president. A total of 2,417 of those queried responded, with 1,189 saying that Goldwater was unfit to assume the presidency.

“While there was no formal policy in place at the time that survey was published, the ethical implications of the Goldwater survey, in which some responding doctors even issued specific diagnoses without ever having examined him personally, became immediately clear. This large, very public ethical misstep by a significant number of psychiatrists violated the spirit of the ethical code that we live by as physicians, and could very well have eroded public confidence in psychiatry.

“We live in an age where information on a given individual is easier to access and more abundant than ever before, particularly if that person happens to be a public figure. With that in mind, I can understand the desire to get inside the mind of a Presidential candidate. I can also understand how a patient might feel if they saw their doctor offering an uninformed medical opinion on someone they have never examined. A patient who sees that might lose confidence in their doctor, and would likely feel stigmatized by language painting a candidate with a mental disorder (real or perceived) as “unfit” or “unworthy” to assume the Presidency.

“Simply put, breaking the Goldwater Rule is irresponsible, potentially stigmatizing, and definitely unethical.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about the Obama years, about Trump and the new populism, and especially these…

  1. Three big things to expect from the Trump era.
  2. See the warnings about Trump’s infrastructure plan. It’s betraying populism.
  3. The Left goes hysterical over Trump, giving him a free ride as President.
  4. Trump assembles a Strategic and Policy Forum to better hear the 1%.
  5. Trump is the next logical step as America becomes a plutocracy.
  6. The Left sees President Trump and goes mad.

10 thoughts on “As we start a new era, see the similarities between Obama and Trump

  1. Leaving aside my policy differences with him, the one big worry I have with Trump is that he will shoot his mouth off in some form and cause America problems for no gains, possibly not even in terms of his own political support. Obama made many errors, but he was a pretty cool cucumber.

    1. Dana,

      I agree. But then, Trump is a clown and totally unqualified by temperament to be president.

      To restate the point of this post: the similarity are not between the candidates so much as with how we relate to our presidents (i.e., dysfuncationally).

  2. this morning Turchin have post a very disturbing post. i’ have read his past work (not the last Age of Discord in delivery) and he have made, i think, a lot of good observation. it’ s a help to understand why ” we have allowed our elites to divide us into tribes, each led by a faction of our elites” (quote is from your “see the left’s mad). here in italy and in uk is the same.

    A Quantitative Prediction for Political Violence in the 2020s

  3. my copy is in travel: i hope arrive next week: so maybe a couple of week (next is full work for me) before i can discuss your observation on it. on your question to Turchin about FBI omicide rate (i don’t know why but from this pc i cannot bypass chapta on turchin blog)

    he consider only instabiity event: riot,protest, terrorism act and so on. the metodology (and the reply of your question) is full reported in the linked pdf of 2012 JPR article

    1. Scandiano,

      “the metodology (and the reply of your question) is full reported in the linked pdf of 2012 JPR article”

      Nope. I read “Dynamics of political instability in the United States, 1780–2010” in the Journal of Peace Research, July 2012. It does not define “fatality” nor explain the source of the data.

      He does say “The USPV dataset can be found at http://www.prio.no/jpr/datasets and on http://cliodynamics.info. But that’s more effort than I’m interested in investing. As you imply, there should be an explanation in the article. That’s standard practice in economics and the physical sciences.

  4. The noted similarities are why I don’t think we should be too worried about a radical change in American direction. On a practical level, I am not convinced the President can do a lot without congressional or senate support. Obama couldn’t even get the Guantanamo prisoners moved as he wanted. The key others said “No” and that was it.
    If things really shift it will be because the majority of American elected officials want the shift. Despite what the protesters say, the country is governed by how the majority of elected officials and other status quo power holders want.
    If the Deep State really runs things, the people in charge now are the same ones who were running it six months ago.
    There is good reason to think the future is going to look much like the past.

    1. I think Trump is going to steer the Republicans somewhat, but I doubt he will be fundamentally transforming the party – except possibly by making it harder for Republicans to ignore the issues he used so well in the future. (I will possibly worry slightly about 2020 and what he might do if he narrowly loses, if he keeps up talk of things being “rigged.” But that is more cultural/social damage more than actually expecting dictatorship.)

    2. Dana,

      “I think Trump is going to steer the Republicans somewhat, but I doubt he will be fundamentally transforming the party ”

      That’s a safe bet, since no presidents have been able to do so — because they lack the tools to do so. For example, the power of “bully pulpit” is a well-debunked myth.

    3. Doug,

      I strongly disagree, and believe you are framing this incorrectly.

      “I don’t think we should be too worried about a radical change in American direction.”

      The similarities are between how we related to our leaders, not in the leaders’ themselves. My point is that neither Obama or Trump gave a realistic basis for followers’ expectations of progressive/populist changes.

      “I am not convinced the President can do a lot without congressional or senate support.”

      What makes you believe Trump will not have strong support from the GOP majority in Congress for radical changes desired by the far-right? Cutting taxes of the 1%, increasing military spending, expanding our foreign wars, cutting the safety net, gutting environmental regulations, crushing labor unions, and selling Federal land cheaply to the 1%?

      “Obama couldn’t even get the Guantanamo prisoners moved as he wanted.”

      There wasn’t strong support that in either party, or from the public. The 1% doesn’t care.

      “If things really shift it will be because the majority of American elected officials want the shift.”

      Yes. That’s why the strong GOP majorities in both houses of Congress are the trump card. His far-right cabinet will cheer. Trump will sign what they send him.

      “If the Deep State really runs things, the people in charge now are the same ones who were running it six months ago.”

      That’s too simplistic. The Deep State refers primarily to the military and national security apparatus, domestic and foreign.

      “There is good reason to think the future is going to look much like the past.”

      There is little or no reason for that belief. The far-right have planned for decades to create today’s situation. Belief that they won’t use this moment –this power — is unrealistic.

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