The Trump Phenomenon
(Government,Society)
Mike Hauser (18 November 2016 13:35:00)
Mike Hauser

There are a couple of primary things I'd like to go over about Donald Trump and his campaign. Just some short stuff.

Campaign Financing

If you wanted to sink the Donald Trump campaign, what's the first claim you'd make, if you could? The guy's a billionaire, remember. You'd claim that he bought the presidency. But in Trump's case, it's a claim that wouldn't stand up for a second, because Hillary has outspent him. The stats are easy to obtain. I'm sure this is a "drat!" moment for the Democrats.

I rather suspect that this is by design on Trump's part. I imagine that Trump and his strategists are aware of the possibility of this claim being made, and its probable toxicity among voters. Therefore, Trump has chosen to run with as little actual funds in play as possible. It can be said, though, that Trump gets a lot of free publicity, no matter what he does. This is something formerly reserved for the Democratic party candidate. Sadly, the mainstream media is incapable of seeing their true role in politics, and so they continue to feed the Trump machine, where normally they would be all about the Democrat, regardless of who it was.

The Republican Establishment

Imagine a boy's club, complete with secret handshakes, omerta-style pledges (not to squeal on each other), backroom deals, and every other kind of twisted political maneuvering you can imagine. Like or hate your individual politician, regardless of his stripe, this is the pond he swims in. There is a lot of money and power swirling around the U.S. political system, so it is particularly true of Congress and the Presidency. The system exists to feed itself, and it has been built overwhelmingly to favor the incumbent. You don't normally get into this system unless you've been a lawyer. Occasionally a heart surgeon or architect sneaks past, but in general to crack into the system you must be a bona fide lawyer.

It's also worth remembering that the profession of law is not what you see on the screen with Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. The legal system has not been groomed to find the truth or seek justice. It has been built on the idea of who argues better. Spend more money and you get a better arguer. Truth and justice don't enter into it, no matter what you think. So the streams and creeks which feed the larger river of politics are populated by folks who really couldn't care less about innocence or guilt, truth, justice or anything of the sort. In other words, their morality is already in question before they ever actually enter politics.

This is the world of politics. Both parties are built on this model.

Now imagine a guy like Donald Trump. Trump is not from this world. He already has plenty of money and power. He doesn't need you to prop him up. And because of his long record in business, he has a lot of experience dealing with politicians. He knows how to get things done and knows where many of the bodies are buried. Now imagine that Trump begins to approach your little pond of politics. How aghast would you be? How upset would you be that he could upset your finely tuned world of nepotism, cronyism and the like?

That's how upset the Republican establishment is with this candidate. Bear in mind that the Tea Party movement also scares the Republicans, and for many of the same reasons. The Tea Partiers are about principles. They don't much care about your incumbency. They don't much care about your oaths, alliances and back room deals. They want a return to the principles embodied in the Constitution, which have been more or less abandoned for over 200 years in favor of our current system.

So here you see what has lead to the turmoil in the Republican Party over the Trump candidacy. Trump hasn't helped by being inconsistent over time about his position on various issues. Trump is more libertarian than he ever was Republican. He is fiscally conservative and socially liberal, like most of the country. So his personal positions on a variety of issues (of which he has spoken in the past) don't necessarily match those of the party he's running as. He's had to modify those positions to satisfy some of the stable voting blocs of the party.

The Magic of Trump

If you can't figure out why anyone would elect Trump, you've been asleep too many years. The Republican party used to be about conservatism. If you want to know what conservatism is, just listen to Rush Limbaugh. Take most of the principles of libertarianism, modify them with the faith-based principles of the Religious Right, and you're probably close to conservatism. But of late, the Republican party has come to resemble the Democratic party in the number of "progressive" voices it contains. And progressivism is the exact opposite of conservatism. It's the new name for what used to be called "liberalism", the core of the Democratic party.

Donald Trump doesn't really represent the Tea Party, the conservatives or the Republicans. He represents the "heart" of American. I'm not talking about the elites of New York, Los Angeles or Washington DC. I'm talking about the unwashed masses out in the real world of these United States. They're tired of being over-regulated, over-governed, over-taxed and any of a variety of other government excesses. And they're tired of an American foreign policy that puts us somewhere in the middle, one of many, instead of top of the heap, where we believe we belong.

Donald Trump is old enough to remember a time when the U.S. was top of the heap. Where government was far less intrusive than it is now. Where opportunity and optimism were the operative principles of the American system. These things have all gone away, and most Americans want them back. When Donald Trump speaks, this is the world of which he speaks. He stokes the simmering anger that the rank and file American feels toward this government. The average American feels betrayed by his government. And for good reason. And Trump speaks to that feeling. Look at any recent poll measuring how Americans feel toward their government. You will know right there that there's something wrong with the relationship our government has with its people. Politicians (on both sides) are ignoring this anger. They are proceeding, business as usual, to abuse their power and vicimize the American voter. Donald Trump's rhetoric speaks to the average American, and echoes his/her anger at the current state of affairs.

Yes, it's outlandish that someone like Donald Trump should achieve such political heights. But ignore the will of the governed in the U.S. long enough and this is what you get. Americans appear not to care how many times Trump has flip-flopped on issues and principles. He speaks to the way they feel about government. And that's the magic of Donald Trump. Whether he will execute the office of the President in a way they can approve is another story entirely.

Hillary

As a side note, I can't envy Hillary Clinton. The overwhelming sentiment in the country, including the Left, is this anger I spoke of. Unfortunately, Barack Obama did everything he possibly could to make it worse. Literally, it's hard to imagine what else Obama could have done to worsen the sentiment of American voters against their government. And Hillary had to run for the presidency in this kind of environment. Voters dislike or actively hate their government, yet Hillary has been an active part of it for decades. She couldn't talk down Obama. He's was still in the White House, and she probably thought she needed his support, as much as I'm sure that chapped her. So she couldn't echo the rhetoric of Trump. She had to try to figure out where she fit. She appeared to be the Kumbaya candidate who was going to heal your hurts and listen to you before she made any (endlessly compassionate) decision regarding your governance. In fact it's hard to believe she had the level of support she had, given the fact that she's deeply flawed personally, deeply dishonest, and deeply disliked among those who know her. I can only imagine that a large part of her support must have come from the anyone-but-Trump and the anyone-but-Republicans crowd.

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