Thursday, February 9, 2017

The dark before the darkness



     Maybe we are making a mistake focusing on the president and what he does.
     Not that it isn't important. It is.
     And when each day—sometimes it seems each hour—brings some jaw-dropping breach, well, hard not to pull up a chair, lean in close, and gaze in horror at the endless train wreck loop.

     But at this point, it has to be a given. Each new development is a shock but not a surprise. He's lying to make himself seem more successful than he is. Over and over. That's what he does. That's what he's always done. He's locked in cathexis, in a trance with his own reflection, and wants to draw us into his fantasy world. So we're in a trance too.
     Trances are bad. What I find more interesting is not the president, but the millions of Americans who got behind him, voted for him, and are sticking with him, if not cheering then quietly supporting him.     
     They are. Have you ever heard of someone who supported Trump and is now having qualms? The tiniest reservation? A second thought? Ever read a quote along the lines of "Whoops..."? I find that something worthy of at least some of the holy-fuck-look-at-that attention lavished on the latest tweet. Because if the media is fact-checking for the benefit of those who are already aghast at Trump, they are just gilding the lily. We need to think about those who look at Trump's flailing first weeks in office and nod with approval.
    Maybe the reason we don't look at that is because his supporters are even more ominous than the man they are supporting. What if Trump is only the first of a series of Trumplike leaders to come?  It isn't as if we were fine before, or we'll be fine after, not that we can indulge in the luxury of even considering after. 

      Nine out of ten Republicans trust Donald Trump. Game, set, match. As long as those supporters are there, we'll never get to "after." Through blind party loyalty, economic desperation, fear, ignorance and what I calling "framing"—focusing on a very narrow part of the total picture—they're not only backing, they believe a demagogue who is opposed to much of what makes America a free democracy: the press, the courts, a non-political military, public education, NATO, science, social services, affordable healthcare...there's more, but you get the idea.
     When do these people wise up?
     And now the bad news:
     Never.
     They never wise up. I can't imagine it. If they could, how did they get to this point in the first place? I keep thinking of Stalin. Died in 1953. Pushed policies that caused mass starvation in the 1930s. Purged intellectuals. Killed maybe 10 million Russians. Made pact with Hitler.
     His approval ratings today? Forty percent. Yes, some of that is due to Putin propaganda, trying to soften up the public, to stoke nostalgia for tyrants like himself. But still. You would not think it possible. Germany might have served up a Hitler, but at least they're not still swooning for him. In the main, excepting certain pockets of East Germany where they're working themselves up to try to get him back.

     These are dark times. And while I don't agree with Rahm Emanuel's over-flip assessment that Democrats should "take a chill pill"—what a contemptuous expression to come out of a contemptuous man's piehole—I do believe that this is only the start. If I thought this moment right now is as bad as it gets, I'd have a big Trump Party, because this so far is feeble. Some travelers inconvenienced—not to diminish the pain of others, which is always temptingly easy. But not the Inquisition either. And a lot of incompetents, zealots and haters named to his cabinet. Scary, but just a start. My sense is, these first disorienting weeks are only the dip after the long climb up the hill on a roller coaster. A feint, before the true plunge begins.
    


16 comments:

  1. Whenever I ponder the challenges in my life the reverie always revolves around the reality that most of the problems in my life are of my own doing. The world doesn't revolve around me, so any problems I have are usually a result of my inability to adapt to the conditions I am faced with.

    Many people, however, see all of the problems in their life as the result of outside forces unfairly affecting their life. They need a bad guy, an "other". These are the kind of people who are susceptible to the relentless memes of Limbaugh and Fox and Hannity and Brietbart, memes that have been molding the thoughts of Trump followers for decades. Those daily narratives fit the life script of people who need a bad guy, people who never look in the mirror for the source of their troubles.

    Part of the Trump gang's demented genius is that they have taken their followers meme addled brains and added the meme that any criticism of Trump is "fake news" thus short circuiting any adaptive thinking that might bring them back to the land of reason. Sinclair Lewis' IT CAN"T HAPPEN HERE is looking more and more prescient.

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  2. Can't say that I've seen any Trump apostasies. No matter how egregiously vile and self-serving his tweets, no matter how racist and sexist his executive orders, no matter how unprepared and incompetent his cabinet picks, Donald Trump never lacks for apologists, some more, some less eloquent in their defense of the indefensible. So, given that the split between diehard liberals and committed conservatives is pretty much 50/50, I suspect that the only hope of saving the world from a line of tinpot dictators is to convince the "independents," i.e. non voters, that it would better serve their interests to vote for Democrats rather than Republicans or at least for Republicans with enough courage to oppose President Trump every once in a while.

    john

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  3. Interesting defense of Trump in today's Sun-Times by someone called
    David Azerrad. Makes him sound like Abraham Lincoln and claims he is just promoting a new, benign, form of populist nationalism and not the old same old.

    You get a flavor of die hard Trump support reading comments posted on articles in the Tribune.

    Tom Evans

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    1. I read that, and recommend doing so, if you can without hurling. It shows exactly how these people filter this.

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  4. There is an unsettling whiteness at all of his gatherings.

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  5. There is this twitter group. So there are people that are having regrets about voting for him. https://twitter.com/Trump_Regrets?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor He had more unfavorable numbers than Clinton and still won. He still has the most unfavorable poll numbers now. I can understand a certain groups voting for him. But there were probably plenty of rich people who voted for him as well.

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  6. I take heart in the fact that Trump's election was an utter fluke. 30,000 voters in three states decided the election, while millions in California and elsewhere were effectively disenfranchised. I can't believe that he or anyone remotely comparable to him could pull this off again.

    Bitter Scribe

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    1. See Scientific American's March/April issue, Trump's Appeal: What Psychology Tells Us. Could be Trump is smarter than he looks and per Neil, we could be in for more of the same.

      john

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  7. I always appreciate your use of words I need to look up, today's word cathexis. Interesting word, nice etymology.

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  8. I wonder if it would be useful to break down the Trump supporters by group and to try to figure out how to, or if it's worthwhile to, address each group. We can't presume that they're all fascist simpletons. Of course they're not all fascist simpletons. That's just one bloc in a coalition.

    Groups that voted for Trump also include anti-abortion zealots, homophobes, reality TV fans, misogynists, factory owners, conservative Christians, a lot of military personnel, gun fanatics, white supremacists, those generally afraid of the world, and my neighbor George.

    There's no convincing George, but if we could win over just half of the reality TV fans we'd be heading in the right direction. I'm not saying I know how to do that.

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  9. we stole this land from its original inhabitants. we enslaved african people for generations. afterwords ( even now ) we repessed them. we wouldn't let women vote, we firebombed dresden, and nuked japan . we encourage people to come here to work for squat then threaten them. we rape countries all over the world of their natural resources for our benefit. we force our values on other cultures in order to profit from selling them crap . we wage war on countries because they want nothing to do with any of this crap. we support countries that recess vast segments of their populace . we do this . us. and we are trying to understand how people support trump and his make america great again crap. we try to make ourselves out to be better than they are? history proves we aren't . much of the present indicates we aren't . everybody in this country needs to be less like . me me me me mine mine mine more more more. or maybe just go watch tv. is it march madness yet again yet?

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  10. Glad you aren't too cynical, FME. Ahem...

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  11. cynical . no just pained by this we are better than the stupid people who elected our current president crap

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  12. I am a conservative republican. I felt like a deer in the headlights on election day. I could not vote for Hillary as her policies were way too far to the left for me yet I couldn't vote for Trump as I think he is a clown and unlike a circus clown he isn't funny. What group do I fall into? Am I in the basket of deplorables? I just can't believe that Trump got the nomination. I think the republican voters last year collectively forgot how to tie their shoelaces. I am embarrassed that Trump is Prez. I don't think he would run for a second term as he might be too old but he could I guess. It's possible. I just hope the gop'ers with some common sense will gather together and have a sit down with the prez and tell him, please put down the phone and tv remote. Try has hard as you can not to start WWIII and let us handle it. They have to strap him down and demand he get rid of Kelly Ann and Bannon and stop saying stupid things. If they don't it's just a matter of time before he impeached and found guilty of something or other as he doesn't know how govt works. Again, I am not a lib, not a dem but a conservative person who now is lost a sea with a idiot prez. You might say switch to the dems... nope.. would never vote for Hillary or her type because she would continue Obama's bad policies. So, I am just lost and hope someone good on the gop side can unseat him in 2020.

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    1. I am a liberal Democrat. My brother was a liberal Republican, who nevertheless defended George W. Bush when he felt he was unfairly made fun of, so I can understand those of your persuasion circling the wagons and trying to protect Donald Trump from himself. However, your candid dislike of Trump is refreshing, though of course I bristle a bit at "Obama's bad policies." I miss my brother of course, but I also miss his brand of Republicanism, which has virtually disappeared at least since the advent of the Tea Party. There are some serious current issues that partisanship does not seem likely to resolve. But right now, on both sides, it's sans merci, no surrender, no prisoners. Not helpful at all.

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