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Saturday, January 27, 2018

We need to stop hating Trump

More and more, I agree with what, for example, Matt Taibbi, is saying - I think we are missing the opportunity to craft a positive vision rather than just being appalled all the time. That's so easy, to just push the outrage button. I have tons of friends who are just rabid about Trump, but how does that help? On the other hand, I'm less and less convinced that the really red state voters would vote for Democrats if we would just "listen" to their concerns. Hillary spoke to many issues that affected them, including the opioid crisis, which Donald Trump's policies is making worse. Many of those voters are not ever ever EVER going to vote for a Democrat. And they fricking love "the way Trump talks," which they pretend has to do with his being off the cuff and "real," but has a LOT more to do with his being racist as fuck. They are not ever ever EVER going to vote for a candidate they think cares about black and brown people. Dems and progressives need to inspire our natural constituencies to come out and vote. That's why Roy Moore lost. Not because Dems successfully appealed to "white working class" voters.

Here's excerpts from Matt:

. . . Despising Trump and his followers is easy. What's hard is imagining how we put Humpty Dumpty together again. This country is broken. It is devastated by hate and distrust. What is needed is a massive effort at national reconciliation. It will have to be inspired, delicate and ingenious to work. Someone needs to come up with a positive vision for the entire country, one that is more about love and community than blame.

. . . Division isn't an accident. It's not even just a by-product of a commercial scheme, though the pioneering work of Roger Ailes and Fox News played a crucial role in our current mess, by showing media companies they could make easy money through the politics of bifurcation and demonization.

Division does make money, but beyond that, it's highly political. It's an ancient technique of elites, dividing populations into frightened and furious camps so as to more easily control them. When people are scared enough and full enough of hate, they will surrender their rights more quickly.

It's not an accident that as the right-left divide has grown in this country, we've gradually given up on almost every principle that used to define us, collectively, as Americans. We surrendered our rights to privacy, failed to protest vast expansions of federal power (including to classify the inner workings of our own government – our government), stopped requiring due process to jail people and closed our eyes to torture and assassination and all sorts of other atrocities.

. . .If we were serious thinkers, and not obvious or malleable ones, we'd have spent this last year coming up with ways to improve this country, or make it more just, or more beautiful, or less violent, instead of obsessing constantly about Trump.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Republican authoritarianism

Still, as the conservative movement has completed its conquest of the Republican Party, it has never resolved the dilemma that haunted it from the beginning. Conservative opposition to policies like business regulation, social insurance, and progressive taxation has never taken hold among anything resembling a majority of the public. The party has grown increasingly reliant upon white identity politics to supply its votes, which has left an indelible imprint on not only the Republican Party’s function but also its form.

. . . 

Here is a sitting governor in the United States, not some post-Soviet kleptocrat, actually calling for “authoritarian power.” To be sure, LePage lies along the edge of his party rather than at its center. But the nature of party coalitions is that they cluster around common principles, and the mainstream of Republican thought is closer to LePage than anybody could have imagined possible a few decades ago. In a September National Review cover story, co-authors Yuval Levin and Ramesh Ponnuru, two of the right’s most erudite intellectuals, acknowledged that Trump has made some questionable statements that “certainly do not sound like the views of a person with a deep esteem for the constitutionally limited role of the president or for the delicate balance of our system of government.” But, they quickly insisted, Hillary Clinton’s support for executive actions, laws that create more bureaucracy, and liberal judges poses “a more concrete and specific threat than Trump.” Indeed, “mainstream liberalism now subverts and threatens our democracy,” and so they concluded that the safer choice, from the standpoint of the republic’s stability, would be to hand control of the Executive branch to Trump. This is how a party consensus forms. The more strident wing openly endorses authoritarianism, and the “moderate” wing refrains while agreeing that authoritarianism is still preferable to liberalism.


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