Monday, November 28, 2016

Go ahead and act like you've received a mandate!

For the majority of Americans who didn't vote for Donald Trump, don't lose hope. Yes, one man can do a lot of damage in four years; but the numbers and history do not favor him being able to make his revolution permanent.

After all, Mr. Trump won less than 47% of the popular vote. Conversely, that means that more than 53% of the American people voted for someone other than him for President. Many Americans seem oblivious to the fact that the popular vote continues to be counted long past election night and the announcement of a winner. In the weeks since the election, Hillary Clinton's lead in the popular vote has surpassed two million votes (and is likely to grow before the process is finished). Moreover, polling data continues to suggest that Trump has very high unfavorable ratings for a President-elect (that a majority of Americans continue to have a negative impression of him)

What does all of this mean for a Trump Presidency? The combination of victory, control of both houses of Congress and a monstrous ego are indicative of that age-old nemesis of politicians:  OVERREACH. In short, if Mr. Trump keeps all of his campaign promises and attempts to erase the last eight years, he will almost certainly be a one term president. How do I know that?

How likely do you think it is that the people who have ridiculed and rejected the policies which he espoused during the campaign are going to change their minds about them once they are enacted into law? Do you honestly think that people who have enjoyed more freedom, rights and protections in recent years are going to quietly move to the back of the bus again? Do you really believe that building a wall is going to change the direction that the nation's demographics have been moving for generations is suddenly going to grind to a halt or be reversed? Do you honestly believe that one man (no matter how talented or self-assured) can reverse/halt the march toward globalization and automation in manufacturing? Once again, do you see the rest of the world sitting on their hands and watching that happen?

If we give an honest answer to all of these questions, I believe we must conclude that the numbers and history are not on this man's side. Hence, if he hopes to have any chance at success or to serve more than four years, I humbly suggest that the President-elect not act like he has a mandate. There will be plenty of folks who will be whispering in his ears: "to the victor go the spoils!" BUT I'm also sure there are a great many folks out there who are quietly thinking about an old Clint Eastwood line:  "Go ahead, make my day!"

The Representative of American Nativism

Many of the folks who eventually voted for Donald Trump shouted "BUILD THE WALL!" at his rallies. It is ironic to me that American nativists have chosen this man as their champion.

After years of decrying the negative impact of illegal immigration on the United States and questioning Obama's American credentials, these folks have chosen a man to represent them with very shallow roots in this country!

Consider the following FACTS (not the crazy birther shit and false Muslim labels which they hurled at Obama) about The Donald:

1. His mother was born in Scotland
2. His paternal grandparents were both born in Germany and married there in 1902
3. His first wife, Ivana, was born in Communist Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic)
4. His third (and current) wife (and soon to be First Lady) was born and raised in Communist Yugoslavia (now Slovenia)
5. Thus, his most distant familial/ancestral connection to the United States of America is the immigration of his paternal grandfather to this country in the year 1885 (no roots in Colonial America, the Revolutionary War or the Civil War)
6. His religious background is not based in American traditionalism either. It is certainly not founded in the American Fundamentalist or Evangelical Christian movements. Instead, it is grounded in Norman Vincent Peale's teachings about The Power of Positive Thinking
7. His business interests are GLOBAL in nature
8. Despite the fact that he was very athletic in school, he received a medical deferment in 1968 after he graduated from college - making him ineligible for the draft and military service during the Vietnam War

Nevertheless, this is the man (Donald J. Trump) that American nativists have elected to represent their interests - go figure!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Donald Trump: Fearmonger or Populist?

Many folks are wondering:  Why did so many Americans support Donald Trump for President? As there has been a great deal of speculation regarding the answers to that question within the United States, I won't be bashful about offering a few of my own thoughts about answering that question.

I believe that a great many Americans are genuinely frightened and bewildered by the changes which they see taking place in their country. They see these changes as a threat to their family, religion, culture, government and livelihood.

For them, America's changing demographics is one of the biggest drivers of these unwanted changes. They see illegal, Spanish-speaking immigrants as:  1) a threat to their English-speaking culture, 2) competitors for scarce jobs and government resources, 3) a voting block that will eventually overwhelm what little political clout they have left, 4) increasing Catholic influence in a traditionally Protestant nation, and 5) a group which threatens to fundamentally change the racial/ethnic makeup of the nation they grew up in. Then, along comes a man who promises to build a wall to keep all of those foreigners out.

Likewise, globalization and trade are seen as real threats to the America which they knew as young men and women. Good paying factory jobs appear to be a thing of the past. Energy prices seem beyond their ability to influence and control. Much of what they consume is stamped "Made in China." And, along comes a man who promises to renegotiate those bad deals and bring back American jobs.

In similar fashion, segments of their society which were formerly looked down upon, openly ridiculed and whose rights were formerly curtailed/restricted now enjoy tolerance, protection and open acceptance from many quarters of society. For them, things like women's rights, homosexual rights and abortion rights are evidence that their society's moral/spiritual state has severely deteriorated over the last fifty years. Once again, along comes a man who promises to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will uphold traditional values.

In addition to all of this, their beloved country has been ruled over by a very liberal Black man for the last eight years - a man whose father was born and raised in Kenya! Moreover, his embrace of the world - of working in concert with other nations - flies in the face of traditional isolationist tendencies and seems to undermine notions of American exceptionalism. Finally, along comes a man who promises to restore America's military might. reconsider NATO, discard the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris Agreement on climate change, and erase most of the domestic "achievements" of the last eight years.

Some folks call these tendencies nativism or populism to make them seem more respectable/acceptable, but I see these things as evidence of us giving into our darker impulses and suggestive of other less-appealing "isms." Perfect love casts out fear. One of our greatest Presidents once told us that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Surely, we can all still see that things like compassion, empathy, tolerance, kindness and mercy represent the better angels of our nature. We can put the lipstick of nativism or populism on the pig, but it still looks like fearmongering to me!