Tag Archives: Donald Trump

President Trump represents the failure of the Liberal Left

Trump’s victory is America’s Brexit. A victory for narrow-minded populism. Again, even though not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist bigot, every knuckle-dragging racist idiot believes half the country agree with them, and minorities will pay a bitter price for the swagger in their step.

But just like Brexit it was an avoidable tragedy caused by a complacent liberal establishment out of touch with significant parts of their own nation.

When The Guardian and rightwing Sad Puppy author Brad Torgersen are in agreement, something is happening.

Here’s Thomas Frank writing in The Guardian

What we need to focus on now is the obvious question: what the hell went wrong? What species of cluelessness guided our Democratic leaders as they went about losing what they told us was the most important election of our lifetimes?

Start at the top. Why, oh why, did it have to be Hillary Clinton? Yes, she has an impressive resume; yes, she worked hard on the campaign trail. But she was exactly the wrong candidate for this angry, populist moment. An insider when the country was screaming for an outsider. A technocrat who offered fine-tuning when the country wanted to take a sledgehammer to the machine.

She was the Democratic candidate because it was her turn and because a Clinton victory would have moved every Democrat in Washington up a notch. Whether or not she would win was always a secondary matter, something that was taken for granted. Had winning been the party’s number one concern, several more suitable candidates were ready to go. There was Joe Biden, with his powerful plainspoken style, and there was Bernie Sanders, an inspiring and largely scandal-free figure. Each of them would probably have beaten Trump, but neither of them would really have served the interests of the party insiders.

We’ve had months of Hillary supporters endless repeating the mantra that if you don’t love Hillary it’s because you’ve sexist. And it didn’t work. Hillary Clinton did not lose purely because she was a woman.

The roots of Trump’s victory lie in the dirty way in which the Clinton campaign fought Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. All those lies and smears painting him and his supporters as misogynists. Those malicuously dishonest hit-pieces by toxic ideologues railing at the “Bernie Bros” who never actually existed.

We’re about to endure a fightening four years, but it’s four years in which to build a movement to defeat Trump or his successor in 2020. Perhaps we should take comfort in these words from Stephen Tall written a few days before the election?

I remember how important the 2004 Bush-Kerry election seemed at the time. Here, after all, was a chance for America to deliver a slap-down to its neo-con president. Matthew Parris wrote a typically shrewd article arguing that a second Bush win was the best outcome, that his ideas had to be allowed to reach their logical, failed conclusion so that voters could see they’d been tested to destruction. Indeed, his victory set up Obama’s in 2008. I say that to console myself in case Trump wins. Sometimes bad things happen for a reason (or, more rationally, Good Things follow Bad Things because reversion to the mean). Besides if we think the 2016 election has been gruesome, think how much worse 2020 might be. Chances are Hillary will be a one-term president. Chances are, if she wins tomorrow, the presidency will revert to the Republicans after 12 years of Democrat incumbency. Then imagine a Trump with some self-control, a Trump capable of pivoting, a Trump who understands how to organise a campaign. And then keep your fingers crossed a Republican emerges who can put Trump’s proto-fascism back in its box.

He may be optimistic, and may be underestimating the harm four years of Trump might do. But the only rational response to electoral defeat must be to begin the work of winning the next one.

And if the tide of right-wing populism is to be rolled back, the liberal-left needs a compelling alternative vision. At the moment, it has none, and that’s a massive part of the problem.

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Donald Trump

Chilling stuff about Donald Trump from Robert Reich’s Facebook page. I’m reproducing it here in full because Facebook is a pig to read if you don’t have a FB account.

Yesterday I spoke with a former Republican member of Congress whom I’ve known for years.

Me: What do you think of your party’s nominee for president?

He: Trump is a maniac. He’s a clear and present danger to America.

Me: Have you said publicly that you won’t vote for him?

He (sheepishly): No.

Me: Why not?

He: I’m a coward.

Me: What do you mean?

He: I live in a state with a lot of Trump voters. Most Republican officials do.

Me: But you’re a former official. You’re not running for Congress again. What are you afraid of?

He: I hate to admit it, but I’m afraid of them. Some of those Trumpistas are out of their fu*king minds.

Me: You mean you’re afraid for your own physical safety?

He: All it takes is one of them, you know.

Me: Wait a minute. Isn’t this how dictators and fascists have come to power in other nations? Respected leaders don’t dare take a stand.

He: At least I’m no Giuliani or Gingrich or Pence. I’m not a Trump enabler.

Me: I’ll give you that.

He: Let me tell you something. Most current and former Republican members of Congress are exactly like me. I talk with them. They think Trump is deplorable. And they think Giuliani and Gingrich are almost as bad. But they’re not gonna speak out. Some don’t want to end their political careers. Most don’t want to risk their lives. The Trump crowd is just too dangerous. Trump has whipped them up into a g*ddamn frenzy.

There are parallels between Trunpism and Brexit; both have unleashed dark forces into the body politic, and made violence or the threat of violence part of the political system. And the point of the threats of violence is to keep decent people afraid; nobody wants to be the next Jo Cox.

This is how sociopaths and tyrants succeed; they make the cost of opposing them too high for anyone but the bravest or those with nothing to lose to bear.

But even then, all it takes is a critical mass of people to stand up and say “I’m Spartacus” to bring them down. Never forget that.

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There are a lot of parallels between the Trump Tapes and The Mixon Report on Requires Hate. Both had the effect of removing plausible deniability from those who had been supporting and encouraging an obvious malevolent sociopath.

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Poisonous Memes

The use of these images is not an endorsement of their conent

Was there ever a better illustration of the Horseshoe Effect than this?

Let’s get one thing out of the way first. The one on the left, as awful as it is, is orders of magnitude less objectively harmful than the one on the right. The Trump campaign ad is shouting-Fire-in-a-crowded-theatre levels of dangerous. The radfem meme is merely offensive, and is most unlikely to lead to gangs with sea-green hair roaming the streets in search of low-status men to beat up. In its original incarnation it had little impact beyond the echo chambers of Tumblr and Twitter.

But that doesn’t let their meme off the hook. It’s still ugly and dehumanising, and I do have a problem with value systems that see that sort of bigotry as acceptable because reasons. But more importantly, Trumpism and the alt-right didn’t happen in a vacuum. In so many ways their identity politics of the disenfranchised is a mirror image of the dehumanising identity politics of the regressive left, and has risen as a reaction against it. So it’s hardly surprising they’ve started copying the regressive left’s most toxic memes.

And as this well-written piece explains, the whole “Poisonous M&Ms” analogy is nonsense that cynucally targets our lizard brains, and relies on the inability to understand statistics or risk in a remotely rational manner.

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You won’t beat Trump by shaming voters

virtue-signalling

When you see something like this (It’s a screenshot of a tweet promoting the Boing Boing blog), you have to wonder exactly what they’re thinking.

Remember the recent all-female Ghostbusters remake? “Dudebro manbabies are losing their shit“, went the pre-release publicity. The subtext was “If you don’t love this film, you’re a nasty evil misogynist”, trying to shame people into watching it.

It didn’t work. The film, which at least according to the reviews was a fair-to-middling Hollywood popcorn movie, flopped badly at the box office. It turned out that the marketing succeeded in alienating a large section of the potential audience, and the only people it appealed to were those who would have gone to see the film anyway.

Why is anyone trying to emulate that disastrous marketing fail?

Perhaps it’s people who have little idea how anybody outside their middle-class progressive bubble thinks or feels? Whatever it is, the stakes are far, far higher than a generic Hollywood remake. A Trump victory could devastate the world. And Clinton supporters are sleepwalking into that terrifying reality.

To be fair, we in Britain made the same mistake in the European referendum. And 52% of the electorate told us to go screw ourselves.

Of course, Boing Boing are not the Clinton campaign as such. Cory Doctorow, who runs the blog, is a strong supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. So perhaps these people don’t really care about winning elections?

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Perhaps Donald Trump is an AI chatbot that’s gone rogue, and they can’t work out how to turn him off?

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There’s one in the spotlight, he don’t look right to me

This mashup is chilling stuff. Donald Trump is the sort of man Roger Waters warned us about 36 years ago.

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Trump vs Hilary vs. Bernie in the US election makes the teapot storms and Drama in Geek Culture looks as ridiculous and petty is it is. What does it matter if some game or novel is “problematic” when the stakes in the American election are so high?

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The Hair Escapes!

Donald Trump's Hair

Donald Trump’s hair managed to leap clear moments before the tragic steamroller accident.

It is unemployed and poor now. But it is happier.

(This image has been widely shared on social media, and I don’t know the origin)

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Donald Trump

TrumpDonald Trump frightens me.

When he started his presidential campaign he was running as the Id of the Republican Party. Now he’s morphed into the closest thing to full-blown Fascism I’ve seen in a non-fringe American politician in my lifetime. I know comparisons were made between George W Bush’s coalition of religious conservatives, militaristic nationalists and big business looking for subsidies and that of Benito Mussolini in the 30s. But Trump is far, far closer to the real thing.

What’s telling is that none of his Republicans rivals will call him out on anything he says. It’s as if they fear that his ignorant xenophobia resonates so well with the Republican base that criticising him might hurt their own chances.

Given the way leading Republicans have spent years stoking up ignorance and fear for short-term electoral advantage, how much is Donald Trump a Frankenstein’s Monster of their own creation?

It’s tempting to dismiss him as a joke, but even if his campaign eventually implodes he’s still doing a lot of harm in Overton window terms. And I don’t think anyone can totally rule up him winning; nobody ever expected him to get this far.

A Trump presidency will be a terrifying thing, even more dangerous for the stability of the world than Islamic State.

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