Wednesday, September 16, 2015

And when he goes away, it'll get greater


     September is half over, but Donald Trump is still here.
     Turning away our gaze and jamming our fingers in our ears isn't working.
     We have to look at him again, in advance of Wednesday's debate.
     The general media assumption since Trump burst into the GOP presidential spotlight in June has been that he'd eventually go off the rails and say something so staggeringly crude that even Republicans would be disgusted, would wake from their slumber, realize exactly who they are in bed with and hastily collect their panties for the walk of shame.
     But it's mid-September. Trump is still here, and the GOP is still in bed with him.
     Believe me, I'd prefer to leave the whole Donald Trump Phenomenon to historians and psychologists. I try to squint and think well of my country, try not to imagine that a major and once-respected party is romancing the erratic demagogue who would drag us into chaotic decline.
     So let's look at him.
     My gaze keeps falling on Trump's baseball cap: "Make America Great Again."
     You can buy it for $25 on his website.
     Make. American. Great. Again.
     It's his campaign slogan. I've already discussed it as a racist code.
     It's another way of saying "America Isn't Great Anymore." They wouldn't rally around that, even though that's exactly what they believe. America was great, before the Fall, back in the Garden, at some happy time, when white people ruled and minorities were either back in their home countries where they belong, making stuff for us, or stepping off the sidewalk with a mumbled "Howdy suh."
     "Make America Great Again."
     That's soooo familiar. Where did we hear that before? Step into the Way Back Machine, and set the dial to 1980.
     Ronald Reagan.
     Of course. The patron saint of Republicanism, the smiling presence who first taught them to hate their own government. So much cleaner than hating the people government helps, directly.
     "For those who have abandoned hope, we’ll restore hope," Reagan told the Republican National Convention in 1980. "And we’ll welcome them into a great national crusade to make America great again!"
     There's a lot going on in that sentence. Some Dante: "abandon hope ye who enter." A little FDR: "This is a great national crusade to destroy enforced idleness." Reagan liked to echo Roosevelt. He also threw out a lot of rendezvouses with destiny.
     "Let's Make America Great Again" was plastered on Reagan's campaign buttons, on posters. 

     Trump acknowledges its origin with Reagan, though that hasn't kept him from trying to trademark it.
     "This is a great country, but it's not being run like a great country," Reagan said in a 1980 TV commercial that ended with the tag line. "Let's Make America Great Again."
     Trump dropped the "Let's," since that suggests communal effort. Americans, led by Ronald Reagan, would join together to regain its lost greatness. With Trump, the implication is we don't have to do anything beyond elect him. He'll do the rest, starting with kicking out the Mexicans who are standing between us and greatness.
     Trump is aping Reagan's rhetoric. It got him elected, but did he follow through? Reagan was president for eight years; did he make America "great again?"
     A complex question, but I was there, and America was plagued by events that were not exactly proof positive of greatness. An economy mired in "Reagan Recession," with 10 percent unemployment and the worst stock market drop in history. Both the Marine barracks in Beirut and the space shuttle Challenger blowing up. Iran-Contra. Nancy and her astrologer. Not exactly our country's finest hour.
     I don't want to be too hard on Reagan. He had his successes too.
     And compared to Trump, Ronald Reagan is Aristotle. He said something — to a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Chicago in August 1980 — that bears remembering. Thanking them for their endorsement, he noted the four previous VFW commanders had been Democrats.
     "When it comes to keeping America strong, when it comes to keeping America great, when it comes to keeping America at peace, then none of us can afford to be simply a Democrat or a Republican," Reagan said. "We must all stand united as Americans."
     "Keeping America great." Three words you'll never hear strung together by Donald Trump, because they imply that our nation is great still, and Trump believes the ship has sailed on American greatness. I don't believe he is correct; then again, he hasn't yet been elected president either.

28 comments:

  1. The Ghost of Christmas PastSeptember 16, 2015 at 1:40 AM

    Great? I thought he said "Grape." Never mind.

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  2. Even if Donald Trump wins a few early Republican primaries, I don't see the infrastructure in place for him to gain the delegates he needs from the larger states. The real danger here is if by some miracle he wins the Republican primary, like Reagan there are many Democrats willing to cross over and vote for a Trump presidency.

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    1. "..like Reagan there are many Democrats willing to cross over and vote for a Trump presidency."

      Not a chance. He will have to come up with more serious and specific policy proposals than "something terrific" and "I'll send Carl Icahn" for Democrats and independent swing voters to give him any consideration.

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  3. The Ghost of Christmas FutureSeptember 16, 2015 at 7:28 AM

    He ain't no good that Trumpie but better than that Club lobby made up of financiers who want to underpay taxes cut social security and stop him cause he would not donate. Wall Street and tycoons be more dangerous than him. He won'ts get the nod, dinna worry,man.

    OT from another time/

    As fer the late abortion pushers-see 23 weeks-it sho is a baby! Week before abortion limit borned.

    http://news.yahoo.com/miracle-baby-born-one-week-before-abortion-limit-110126397.html

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    1. Please rewrite that in English!

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    2. Dontcha knows Appalachian Ebonics mixed with Scots brogues???

      Lynn Sweets be saying no worries, mate/ Illinois aint even gots the delegates fer Trumps yet -not organized.

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  4. Dinna give up on the country Neil, ole boy jist cause some peoples likes Trumpie.

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  5. Can Americans elect a ignoramus? Yes, they can and have. So many examples, but here is a very recent one: Bruce Rauner. So don't be surprised if Trump becomes president.

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    1. Rauner isn't an ignoramus, precisely, but it is fun seeing him try to govern Illinois as though it were a messed up business.

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    2. A good point. Much of Trump's appeal seems to come from a sentiment, fostered in part by the media, that we need a businessman who knows "how to get things done" to lead us rather than the lawyers and politicians now in charge, a profound misunderstanding of what governance involves. Our greatest president, the one who steered the nation through its most troubled waters, was a canny lawyer, a gifted politician, and a war leader of whom his best general said "Mr. Lincoln gained influence over men by making them feel it was a pleasure to serve him." Lincoln has been remembered for his stirring oratory, but perhaps more pertinent to the day is what he wrote about governing the nation:"Democracy discovers its justification not in emergency actions, but in the ordinary and difficult work of passing laws, and the daily dedication of people who agree to live by them."

      There have been few businessmen presidents. Two who come to mind are Herbert Hoover, who led us into the Great Depression, and George W. Bush, of "Mission Accomplished" fame, who bamboozled us into the disastrous war in Iraq, with its enduring tragic aftermath.

      Tom Evans

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    3. So true about Hoover, Tom and he was an engineer of sorts as well. He's on my list as worst President.

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    4. My faves were the 2 NY born Presidents born with silver spoons in their mouths but that still empathized with the working poor while keeping a check on banks and businesses- the Roosevelts. One of them might be called a rino today, but that's a good thing.

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    5. Susan: For me, the fun is starting to wear thin. Rauner is so obsessed with striking at unions that he's willing to send the whole state off a cliff.

      He apparently believes that if he holds out long enough, he can buy enough attack ads to force the Democrats out of office, which is his understanding of what democracy is all about.

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  6. you might be able to trace it back even farther. in one of the earliest television political ads Eisenhower used the words 'take us back...' that one could equate with Trump's beanery...

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    1. "America's present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality". –Warren G. Harding

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    2. Harding was an awful President and his admin was scandal filled.

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  7. The latest meme among mainstream Republicans desperate to "explain" the Trump phenomenon is that it's a reaction to "political correctness" and "the offense culture."

    Which, in a way, is true. People who complain about "political correctness" are really complaining that they can't slag on minorities and women like they used to. When they rail about "government," they are really railing, as Neil notes so pithily, against the people the government helps and protects.

    IOW, it's all about bigotry. The Republicans have appealed to bigots, in various subtle and not-so-subtle ways, for decades. Trump is merely the result.

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    1. Bitter Scribe,
      You throw about the idea that Republicans are bigots, as an explanation for Trump's popularity. But things may not be that simple. Do you have a theory for the rise in popularity of Dr. Ben Carson? I'll admit it has taken me by surprise.

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    2. Sure I do. Carson is a black man who tells the bigots what they want to hear. It's the same reason that Clarence Thomas is on the Supreme Court.

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    3. another words, they are Uncle Tom's

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    4. they are accomodationists -like Booker T. Washington as opposed to W.E.B. DuBois, but BT had little choice where he was at, they are not Stokely Carmichael types

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    6. Perhaps your right, though Dr. Carson's positions on many issues are the same as other Republican candidates. The racists I've had the displeasure of being acquainted with would never vote for a black man.

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  9. Bitter Scribe is right. It's all about sustaining bigotry in its various forms by a white minority. That's why you hear cheers when Trump slanders Mexicans, women, and calls the African American president stupid. What else has he offered to explain how he'll make America "great" again? Nothing. Just put up walls and charge the people you insult as to the cost. Which is a metaphor on how he and his rabid followers think they can punish those they've been forced to accept the last couple of decades or so.

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  10. Watched some of the Repub.debate, Fiorina and Rubio blew Trump out of the water on the Putin and Syria question. They came up with knowledgeable details on the military and the region, whether one agrees with them or not, they made Trump sound like a fool. All he could say and repeat was that he would get along with Putin.

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    1. This may be the beginning of the end for him...

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    2. Trump also linked vaccinations to being a cause of autism. Dr. Carson in his mild manner, made Trump look the fool, by citing relevant medical literature..

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