US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

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Stanley
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US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Post by Stanley » 04 Mar 2016, 03:12

I asked a good friend of mine to give us his view of the Trump Phenomenon because I trust his judgement. Here is what he sent.....
And yes, my description of him as 'liberal' was meant to be a compliment. The nearest equivalent here is 'social democrat'; someone who has a balanced and benevolent attitude towards the whole of society.

Should People in the UK Be Worried about Donald Trump?
--by Bob Bliss

Stanley Graham tells me that many of his friends and readers are worried about Trump and he asks me to provide a “liberal” view of the problem. If everyone will take my advice with a grain (or block) of salt, I am happy to oblige, and will take the “liberal” characterization as a compliment.
If I found Trump incredible, I would be less worried myself. But as a phenomenon of US politics, he is all too credible. First of all, and so far, he’s winning a plurality of Republican votes and, given the rules of that party’s national convention, he is now the most likely nominee for President. As of this writing, I hope he gets the nomination, because if he doesn’t, the person who wrests it from him could enjoy some considerable electoral advantages as the person who’s saved the nation. I don’t think it would be very easy for Cruz or Rubio to don that shining armor, but someone like Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, could do so and, as knight or savior, or both, give Hillary Clinton a run for her money. If Trump sails on and through, I think Clinton will beat him, flawed though she may be (I am a Bernie Sanders kind of guy, and enjoy thinking how much he reminds me of Michael Foot).
Trump is credible also because he is a logical, historical, cause-and-effect outcome of over a generation of Republican Party con tricks. He is what they deserved, “they” being a party elite that, for their own ends, have sold a large portion of the American electorate on unreal visions of past and future and on promises that they could not keep (and never meant to keep). Part of it involves the so-called Southern Strategy, devised by Nixon but perhaps with its real roots in the Republican contest for the 1952 nomination, when the liberal Republican Eisenhower used southern Republican votes to wrest the prize from “Mr. Conservative,” Robert Taft of Ohio. The southern Republican party then was largely moribund and largely (ironically) black, a gaping hole in the two-party system that begged to be filled.
The Democratic Party’s halting embrace of Civil Rights (1945-1968) opened the door to creating a conservative, white, southern branch of the Republican Party. This left no place for liberal Republicans (like my parents, who left the party in disgust well before it foisted Reagan on the nation). Its racist tendencies (by no means all southern conservatives are racist) are of course coded into more acceptable messages about criminality, welfare cheats, educational choice, and (yes) making American great again. Bizarre redistricting maps of southern state and national representative constituencies have placed the South pretty securely within the grip of nearly any Republican running for nearly any office. Luckily, running as President, Trump would have to win a whole state’s vote, which will be a stiffer challenge.
Meanwhile, nationally, while in actual demographic fact the country was rushing pell-mell to become the most diverse society in the developed world (ethnically and in many other ways too), the Republicans invented, caressed, polished, and lived by the myth of a “silent majority” (Spiro Agnew) made up of “real Americans” (Sarah Palin) who were the blood-rightful governors of this land. So deeply has this become a Republican article of faith that they cannot believe they can, or should, ever lose a national vote. Racism aside, this underlying belief in their right to rule governed their reactions to Clinton’s victories (in 1992 and 1996) and Obama’s (in 2008 and 2012) and made them into a party that simply does not know how to behave after losing an election in a democratic polity. Indeed, Republicans do not lose national elections. They wuz robbed. And so in congress (in marked contrast to the Democrats’ legislative reaction to George W. Bush’s very odd victory in 2000—speaking of robberies) the Republicans’ only strategy is obstruction. Elsewhere they encourage the idea that Obama is not an American, that he is Muslim, and most recently (in a Texas school board campaign) that he is a secret homosexual. (Someone should tell them down there in Texas that you don’t need to be a “secret” homosexual any more.) More seriously, through new and inconvenient voter registration and identification laws, they raised obstacles in the way of certain people (especially the poor) being able to vote at all, thus turning their backs on 230 years of lowering suffrage requirements and eliminating suffrage restrictions. Whatever else can be said of Trump’s support, and those who crowd his rallies, they are by these definitions “real” Americans and, clearly, they believe themselves to be “real” Americans, and where in those rallies they see dissent they know that the dissenters cannot be “real” Americans.
Additionally, and significantly, leading Republicans have for decades been promising various moral nirvanas or nostrums to their supporters: “hot button” issues. For the most part, the Republican elite doesn’t really care about these things (the Bush family in its private life was once a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood), and often they must know that they can’t really deliver them, but like Maggie Thatcher’s cynical use of “bringing back hanging” it helps to whip up the loyalists and raise their political temperature to delirium pitch. Hysteria is a symptom of modern Republicanism. In this cycle, the clearest example of this—by far—are Trump’s promises concerning immigration and immigrants. He will build (and force Mexico to pay for) a wall all along our southern border. And he will immediately begin, and soon complete, the deportation of over 11,000,000 illegal immigrants. (These absurd, cruel, and impossible promises have, in spirit if not to the letter, been endorsed by all the other Republican candidates, by the way). One thing you should not worry about is this mélange of xenophobic racism, legal la la land, and economic suicide. It can’t be done and it won’t be done. Getting rid of illegals would collapse the economies of small towns across the rural Midwest and, in any case, require wholesale suspension of several constitutional guarantees for citizens and immigrants (whether legal or illegal).
But this pie in the sky stuff has been the campaigning staple of Republicans ever since Ronald Reagan (another myth) ran for office in California promising that more severe legal penalties would help him to stamp out crime. He won, and California actually instituted severe incarceration policies, but crime went on its merry way (and now the Republican elite is complaining that prisons cost too much). At the time and since, criminologists have told Republicans that such policies have not worked, will not work, and cannot work, but as with climate change and biological evolution, scientific arguments such as those advanced by criminologists are immediately dismissed as “liberal.”
This is what most worries me. Of course in the short term President Trump would be, most likely, a disaster. But possibly not a major disaster. He cannot remake the world, and probably would not remake America. He’s a con man, and if he did take office he would find fake ways to retreat from his fake offers to the electorate. He has learned, in business, how to cut his losses. The Democrats, unable to shed their belief in democratic processes, would rush to help him do just that, hoping to hammer him in 2020. But he is the end product of a political movement that no longer believes in learning about how the world actually works and is vastly content to create a make believe universe where tax cuts always bring prosperity to everyone, where stiffer punishments end crime, where the way to win a war is to say you won it, where God would not allow Miami, or Myrtle Beach, to sink beneath the rising tide of the ocean, and where the national forests and grazing lands “really should” belong to armed trespassers and God-besotted squatters.
Today’s Republican Party fits Donald Trump really rather well. He inherited wealth and has rarely had to deal even with a shareholder’s meeting let alone that very rare phenomenon of a rebellious board of directors. He’s a deal maker, and he’s got plenty of cards. Some deals work. Others do not. Trump Towers sprout like cornstalks, Trump Steaks don’t. Trump University taught us nothing. From a President Trump we might actually learn something, although I hope very much that there are easier and better ways to get an education.

Bob Bliss (Historian, St Louis)
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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Re: US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Post by Stanley » 04 Mar 2016, 03:27

Having read this I can't help noting the parallels between the Republicans in America and the Tories in the UK......
Stanley Challenger Graham
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scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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Re: US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Post by plaques » 04 Mar 2016, 09:45

Or perhaps the background to the French revolution. The only thing missing is the price of bread.

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Re: US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Post by Stanley » 05 Mar 2016, 05:14

Have you looked at the Paul Krugman article on Politics Corner that Bob sent me a link for?
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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