Monday, February 29, 2016

Beware the foul fiend

What if being disgusted by Donald Trump isn't nearly enough?

The very question has the assumption we Canadians often fall prey to, which is that what we think about American politics matters at all. It's a nice "from the sidelines" thought exercise for a people that just chose the establishment party - and chose it big time - in their last election. But hey - it's fun!

Anyways, the question at the top is spurred by a Rex Murphy take on Trump that I found quite thought-provoking and on point. In it he acknowledges that Trump is a dangerous, "easy answers" candidate but also that he is born out of a political system that has been failing for years. If you haven't watched it yet, check it out below:

From Rex Murphy's take:

"Donald Trump is a real threat to "rational, measured political action." Deploring him is the easy part. Seeing him as a clown, a dangerous one, as an opportunistic, hyper-rich, egotist, all-mouth-little-brain and easy conscience can make everyone feel good and superior.... The rise of Trump-ian style and the failure of normal politics are one."

I wonder, just what the "failure of normal politics" he describes might be? The first point Rex raises is money. Obama spent a billion dollars. Every election goes to the candidate who spends the most money. Politics are controlled by those with money. Probably the best imagining of this is by Bill Hicks, who figures politicians do what they're told. Worth a listen for the first minute or so:

But money ain't all. Politicians' lying is being seen less and less as something that's okay to let slide with a wink and wag of the finger. It's becoming revolting to pretty much everybody but especially the American demographic that supports Trump. Sure, if they see Trump as The Honesty Candidate they're allowing themselves to be duped, but Trump's straight-shooting style has resulted in some pretty cool moments of substance, be it telling a room full of potential Jewish donors he didn't think Israel always bargained in good faith to openly declaring that politicians can be bought - because he's bought them before. This door was opened by a political system that was more than willing to lie to the electorate.

One subject that likely motivates many Trump supporters is race... and I'm not sure how to address this one. Trump has been more than happy to express racist sentiments against Hispanics and Muslims and that undoubtedly wins him fans. At the same time he also does not have a Mein Kampf on his resume and - to me at least - seems to be spouting the racism or allowing the allegations to linger as a sort of dog-whistle to get and keep attention. In a wonderfully friendly and thoughtful society these actions would have ruined him. But they haven't. A large segment of the population apparently agrees with what he has said, or will at least give him a break because he's telling it like it is. Okay, it would be really crappy if he became the next Hitler but I don't think Trump is a racist (or the next Hitler for that matter). Frankly I'm surprised Trump didn't blast the KKK as only he could. Wouldn't it have won him some legit respect for the general election?

I'll need to stop it there for tonight. Basically the thought that sticks with me is that Trump didn't emerge out of nowhere. If people felt that politicians acted remotely in the interest of the people, if there was a healthy debate on issues that mattered to people - even if it's difficult, like race - then he probably isn't running away with the Republican nomination.

There are forces far more powerful than Trump at play, which is the actual reason to be afraid of his success. He's not the next fucking Hitler but the signs are there that the human soul continues to be open to one, as it always has. A people that feels embarrassed economically, disrespected or threatened globally, and ignored by their leaders will act in surprising and potentially ugly ways. And we have always allowed the state to use violence. Which is why being disgusted with Trump isn't enough. The narratives that he is responding to are what must be defeated.... and that doesn't seem easy at all.

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PS: Extra special bonus from The Golf Channel. Trump as prez: good or bad for golf? (Actually)

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