Thursday, May 5, 2016

Trump Redux

Time to talk about “the Donald” again. Things are getting ominous!

I am not going to rehash his racism, sexism and xenophobia, which are documented and commented upon by the media on a daily basis.

Nor do I want to reiterate his personality flaws. It’s obvious that he is, in Marco Rubio’s words, about as vulgar a candidate as we have ever had, that he is a narcissist with a mental age and the vocabulary of a thirteen-year old, that he is embarrassingly inarticulate, and that his knowledge of the international world, of history, of society, of science, of political and economic systems is that of a high-school student. All of this is being discussed by the pundits and by others non-stop.

Instead, I believe that it is time to try to VISUALIZE a Trump presidency, because such a thing is becoming more possible every day.

One segment of the American electorate seems to have taken leave of its senses. I hate to stereotype, but let’s just say that many - not all, but many - of these people are aging white men with relatively low education. And yes, these people are very angry, as the pundits often remind us.

What the pundits do NOT remark as frequently, is that this anger is INORDINATE. Okay, okay, there is corruption, elitism, inequality, “the system” is rigged in many ways, and upward mobility is not what it used to be. And these are exactly the reasons why I support both the Sanders and the Clinton campaigns.

BUT: America is not in dire straights, for crying out loud. I can think of a dozen times in our history when things were much worse. How about the Civil War, World Wars One and Two, the Great Depression, the Great Recession of 2008, the turbulent Sixties with all its assassinations, etc.?
And let’s not forget that life in the United States remains far better than nearly anywhere else.

So let’s agree that this diffuse rage which is behind Trump’s popularity makes little sense. And not only does it make little sense in view of the fact that America is by no means in “the worst shape ever,” as Trump would have you believe, but also because Trump is the last person one should turn to for help in combating injustice and inequality. Maybe it’s something in the water, or in the kool-aid, or brain calcification, or whatever.

Here is the real danger: Hillary Clinton has so much baggage, so many negatives carefully created over the years by the political Right and by the media, that she is by no means a shoo-in, especially if millions of young Sanders supporters become so alienated that they decide not to vote at all. Also, keep in mind that a third consecutive administration of the same Party is historically extremely rare. The pendulum has a way of swinging back and forth.

So it’s not clear at all that Hillary Clinton will be our next President, which means that the catastrophe of a Trump presidency is not far-fetched.

I may be an alarmist, but it feels to me that anything is possible at this point: We thought that Trump would never get the nomination - he now pretty much has it.

We thought that he was a joke. That’s what the German elite thought of Hitler in 1932. President Von Hindenburg and Chancellor Von Papen pooh-poohed the young upstart, believing that they could control him. The joke was on them - and the rest of the world.

Folks, we are in unchartered territory.
World War Three? Or at least major new devastating wars?
A Fascist America? Granted that the Nazi analogy is facile, worn-out and inaccurate. America is much more diverse than Germany was in the 1930s. There are many well as similarities, as Sinclair Lewis showed us in his brilliant 1935 novel, It Can’t Happen Here.

Is there a firewall, when such an error occurs? When the wrong man lands in the most powerful position in the world? Does the system provide protection against such a malfunction? This is clearly a case of systemic malfunction. It should not be happening.

The White House has had unqualified occupants before (most recently from 2000 to 2008). No POTUS is an independent potentate. The President is surrounded by a cabinet, a staff of assistants and advisers. The other two branches of government are always there to mitigate whatever excesses might hopes. This is not ancient Rome, where emperor Caligula could appoint his horse as a Senator.

But this is unchartered territory.
Could America emerge as a full-fledged military police state?
Could politics move into the street?
How about large population movements to the South (expelled Hispanics) and to the North (political refugees)?
 How about punishing women for abortions?
Or repeal of Roe v. Wade? Remember, the POTUS nominates the SCOTUS.

There is reason to be afraid of what’s coming.
© Tom Kando 2016
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