10 December 2015

Better the devil you know (?)

Five Trump stories
Four Trump stories
Of all the would-be U.S. presidential nominees and their campaigns, Donald Trump's seems to be the only one that needs no national advertising budget. Month after month, the mass media continue to assume that we want our daily fix. These two sites, CBS News and the Guardian, were simply the first two places I decided to check this evening to see whether the most recent provocations from the candidate had caused editors to rethink this addiction.

Now when a candidate seriously advocates policies that are unconstitutional, impractical, and incendiary, that does constitute news. Polling and surveys also constitute news, although it's questionable how much insight they give us into the final outcomes. (Also see this by Nate Silver.) But "Borat tells Jimmy Kimmel that Trump is not a real person"? "Trump attacked by a bald eagle"? "Actor Harrison Ford's take on Trump"?

My personal theory on this man's amazing popularity is that it is payback for all the ways traditional politicians are seen posturing and pandering, election cycle after election cycle. Trump's supporters, if I'm right (and I'm basing this on anecdotal evidence from a small sample), do not trust those smoother politicians, even the ones they mostly agree with. Trump rides his ego into the arena and delivers his non-nuanced, "trust me" pronouncements with no censors, spinmeisters, or focus groups in evidence. His audience, in turn, has a sense that what they see is what they get, rough bits and all -- in stark contrast with most of the other candidates and their recycled platitudes. The disapproval Trump gets from those other politicians is proof positive that he is right!

Last Monday, Trump's performance on the old USS Yorktown was an eye-opener. He was quoting himself defending the indefensible, namely his exclude-Muslims policy. He noted that it probably wasn't politically correct, "but ... I. Don't. Care." Trump's political base at this point is made up of the very people who resonate with that sentiment. They don't care, they're thrilled to have a champion who doesn't care, and our bashing Trump for his functional racism and fascism, or ridiculing him for his transcendent absurdity, doesn't get our politics back to where we want it.

Whether or not we take early polls seriously, Trump's continuing success is a scandal and a danger to the country. For that very reason it's time for all politicians to figure out how to rebuild trust with us. I think we know who Trump is, and his success is distressing to many of us, but do we know who those other candidates are, what they truly stand for, and who's paying their bills? Let's ask, and ask persistently.

No, I didn't open the Borat, Harrison Ford, or bald eagle stories.

It took a Tucson church and 10,000 Arizonans to stop the deportation of Rosa Robles Loreto. (Thanks to Dawn L. Rubbert of Illinois Yearly Meeting for the link.)

William Schweiker tells us the main point he feels is missing from conversations about the San Bernardino attack.

The Guardian's live blog of the COP 21 conference in Paris as it nears its end.

Sarah Ruden on Bryan Doerries, his translations and staging of Greek tragedies, how they connect with today's war veterans, and the "narrow and utilitarian way we handle high culture in this country."

Another version of "Nobody's Fault But Mine" ...

Carolyn Wonderland and Bonnie Raitt - "Ain't Nobody's Fault But Mine" from Road To Austin film from Gary Fortin on Vimeo.
[Text on Vimeo] Carolyn Wonderland delivers an epic rendition of the classic Blind Willie Johnson song "Ain't Nobody's Fault But Mine". Carolyn and Bonnie trade guitar licks in front of an all-star band led by Stephen Bruton and featuring the late Ian McLagan on keyboards. This is one of 37 once-in-a-lifetime performances from the film Road To Austin. To purchase a DVD copy of the film go to www.rtafilm.com


Bill Samuel said...

[Note: I had to switch to IE to post a comment, as it can't be done from Chrome.]

Trump is an interesting character. He comes out for the most outlandish things, like barring anyone of a particular faith. But then on some things, he is more carefully thought out and better than most conventional politicians. He opposed the Iraq War and has said our military interventions in the Middle East created the current problem. I agree. Before he cancelled his Israel trip, he was quizzed on the Middle East and he refused to follow the AIPAC line. He said both sides would have to give if there was to be peace. And he refused to endorse the idea of a unified Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, which most of his opponents favor. He called out Carly Fiorina, who I think is one of the most dangerous Republican candidates (has a calm and reasonable manner, but is a real extremist), for saying she would refuse to even talk to Putin, saying he would talk to any world leader. He doesn't fit a particular ideology. For example, he has praised single-payer health care.

He favors such racist policies that I could not vote for him, yet in some respects his policies are better than those of most of the other Republican candidates and those of the Democrat frontrunner, Hillary Clinton. So he serves a useful purpose, both in his worst statements which highlight the threat of where this country could go, and in some of his other statements where he is more reasonable and enlightened than the competition.

Right now, Trump and Cruz are vying for the lead in the Republican Presidential race. Both are critical of Hillary Clinton for her military interventionism.

Johan Maurer said...

Thank you, Bill. No doubt Trump is more complex than either his supporters or his opponents admit in public. I wonder, if he himself insisted on a deeper conversation in which these complexities were addressed, would he lose or gain support? Right now, he looks to me like an unrepentant bull in a china shop, smashing some stuff that needs smashing but not paying public attention to the collateral damage. I am honestly sick and tired of people who take cheap shots at political correctness for rhetorical effect.

I'm on Chrome and am about to push "Publish your comment." Wish me luck....