Friday, January 6, 2017

entertaining the Don daze: the U.S. presidency
as “reality” TV

The point of this is just to summarize my attitude toward the upcoming Trump presidency, if you want my opinion. Then, I want to leave this behind and write online this year about what interests me, which I’m not quite ready to do, but I’m close; another couple of weeks at the most.

To me, the emerging reality of the Trump presidency is more insulting by the day. Trump was not legitimately elected, as I'll detail later here. But I’m reassured by the lucidity of leading journalism about what’s happening (e.g., the NYTimes Editorial Board yesterday).

Persons outside the U.S. shouldn’t worry that Trump will be able to cause international havoc, because he can’t ignore reality putting itself in his face. (If you haven’t seen that video, you must at least see minutes 2:00 through 6:30 about the prospect that The Donald ran for president not because he cared to do anything good for anyone, but because he’s a narcissist who simply sought revenge—and continues to do so, even this day.) As Vice President Biden said yesterday, Trump should “grow up.” And today, no one seems to be blaming Biden for saying that.

Some leading Republicans weakly endeavor to rationalize Trump’s impulsive threats and insults via Twitter, but not much defense of Trump seems to be happening outside of his inner circle of paid assistants. Trump seems widely regretted by Republicans. So, the vast majority of the political establishment is coping with Trump as best they can.

And Democrats can’t wait until the 2018 Congressional elections, of course. Activism for that is already underway (and President Obama is going to be heavily involved in that).

“Wall Street” is not a simple thing that is uniformly glad to see Trump in the White House. Wall Street is as much about Democratic money as Republican money. There is a lot of Democratic money around (especially in California and New York). Capital-intensive economics is not the same as Capitalist economics, and not all Republicans are Capitalist. There’s a legacy of high Republicanism in America (so-called “Lincoln’s party”), as well as a legacy of low Democratic politics in the American South (which largely converted to “Reagan” Republicanism, then “Tea Party” Republicanism in recent years). Also, the faculties of higher education are greatly Democratic. Educated “Millennials” are mostly Democratic. The career professionalism of government technocracy is not partisan (a controversial claim, I realize), and the U.S. military is deeply based in its traditions of prudence and wanting to be the last resort in service to diplomacy. So, The Donald won’t be firing any apprentices if they don’t follow his dictates.

Trump will be largely a caretaker president with a Republican “led” Congress that can’t lead itself well enough to get much done, thanks to Democratic resolve to maintain status quo (“gridlock” in the legislative process). Trump continues to just promote himself, having no direction, no mandate, and leaving Republicans leaderless. In my view, the Obama legacy will largely continue in international affairs and domestic economics.

The federalist nature of U.S. democracy copes with “Washington” gridlock by increasing state-level initiative, which ironically serves Republican “states’ rights” ideology, but also causes the heavily-Democratic coastal regions to become more like separate nations, as if there is the U.S. Democratic nation in the far west and northeast, and the largely-rural, generally low-populated U. S. Republican nation in the outback “heartland.” That’s an oversimplification here, but the prevailing reality is that U.S. democracy is federalist, not Statist (and California, in particular, is 10% of U.S. population, economically self-sufficient, and led by a progressive Democratic aristocracy).

In any case, this is not an armchair time for punditry and handwringing, no matter how insightful. All Americans in positions of influence should need to ensure as well as they can that their own locality becomes a healthier region, despite “Washington.” Trump must be kept harmless in his puffery and kept ineffective with his magical thinking that egoistically panders to consumers wanting entertainment and magical release from economic difficulties. And everyone should need to ensure that Congress is not dominated by Republicans beyond 2018. Surely, Trump will be a one-term parody of the presidency, and he will be quickly forgotten as an error in the history of American democracy.

Though Trump is no dictator, he’s an authoritarian business promoter who sold himself to lesser-educated, underemployed consumers who want a pop savior and who can’t accept the complexities of global economics and the difficulties of understanding that more “Washington,” not less “Washington,” is needed to improve local education systems and infrastructure that together attract new industries to impoverished regions.

But the populism of the U.S. is nothing like right-wing nationalism in Europe, though there’s plenty of xenophobia here. (More on the new nationalism later this season.)

Trump has also sold himself to avaricious Capitalism, of course, which enjoys letting the poor live with their populist alienation from good government (i.e., progressive economic policies), thanks to hoarding low-taxed capital (or tax-free “havened” capital) that keeps government debt high, keeps rationales of “big government failure” credible, and asks only that “citizens” shop until they drop, while The Big Boys run the economy. But Capitalism is by no means a global hegemony (which leftists don’t yet recognize; more on this later).

Of course, Trump didn’t win the popular vote, and the U.S. electorate is greatly aware of the anomaly that the Electoral College (an ephemeral rubber-stamp parliamentary process) has caused. Trump won by accident of fallout from Republican House committee intimidation of the FBI. More specifically: A protracted fake media effort to degrade Clinton’s candidacy gave a Republican Congressional committee “warrant” to direct the FBI (which is legally obligated to investigate whatever a Congressional committee demands), which created a guilty-until-proven-innocent atmosphere that became suddenly amplified, with no evidence, in the last weeks of the campaign, tilting the 10% of undecided voters (i.e., the most impulsive, disengaged voters) toward Trump.

In other words, to be clear about this: Trump is not legitimately elected. He is not the legitimate President-elect. He is a phony, elected through phony processes.

Russia had a significant hand in creating a fake news environment for the sake of misleading the public extensively, to the intensified disadvantage of Clinton, which Republicans exploited through phony investigations that created an increasingly “guilty” environment which the dispassionate FBI unwittingly supported, just by investigating, and which caused Trump to be illegitimately elected, due to the effect of the FBI, for no evidential reason, reporting to Congress in the final days of the campaign that a new investigation was in process, when in fact there was no evidence warranting that. The media-led environment of crisis annulled the Clinton lead (indicated by all standardly reliable polls!), and last-minute voters in high unemployment “Blue” regions swung 1%—3% state-wide in favor to Trump. And the demographic mis-match between (A) a state’s number of Congressional Representatives (based on previous U.S. Census data)—which determines number of Electoral College voters—and (B) increased population beyond Census figures (which gave Clinton the majority of the popular vote nationally) caused a major shift in Electoral College votes for Trump, even though he had no national popular vote lead. The fake news, incriminating environment most affected voter regions which are most susceptible to whatever media indicates, which were regions with low education and high unemployment. That effect was engineered.

But, I’m not worried about the near future, for reasons that I’ve sketched earlier here. I’m appalled that a de facto compact between Tea Party Whites, Trump’s spirit of revenge, and Russia’s revengeful, active support of Trump caused a U.S. election to be rigged, ironically just as Trump claimed (but very ironically).

Sometimes, I imagine that clueless Trump’s most influential advisors will be his cherished Ivanka and Jared, both of whom are committed Democrats, which is a comforting prospect.

Anyway, I think that global affairs are generally progressive. The global economy is in a stable process of slow recovery, with no risk of reverting into recession soon. Of course, there are heartrending events that are symptoms of horrible global conditions calling for undaunted humanitarian engagement. (And there are bestial events regularly, none of which deserve substantive notice beyond their locality, but for the sickly tabloid mentality of the consumerist side of journalism that signals to the beasts that 15 minutes of fame awaits them, because the tabloid media never fails to deliver.)

Today, I just wanted to explain why the upcoming Trump years don’t worry me. In coming months, I especially want to focus on progressive engagements beyond leftism (and beyond “Third Way” politics of the 1990s).