Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Trumpist ideology and style

It's unlikely in the extreme that Donald Tinyhands Trump or anyone in his entourage will go down in the history of ideas as major contributors to political theory.

But they do have some kind of operative ideology. Here are a couple of articles on his ideological influences.

Jamelle Bouie discusses the white supremacist/white nationalist component in Government by White Nationalism Is Upon Us Slate 02/06/2017. He discusses the contributions of Michael "Publius Decius Mu" Anton, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Jeff Sessions.

Arthur Browne in the New York Daily News in 2016 described Trump's political mentor, the truly deplorable Roy Cohn, The devil in Donald: How the ghost of ‘evil’ Roy Cohn lives on inside Trump 10/01/2016:

... it was lawyer Roy Marcus Cohn who taught Donald Trump how to live.

More specifically, Roy Cohn mentored Trump to:

- abuse the legal system to routinely cheat people;

- dodge paying taxes through use of — to be polite — inventively aggressive techniques.

- exploit falsehoods and innuendo to achieve his goals.
Josh Marshall has his own working theory of Trump's behavior (On Trump, Keep it Simple (In 5 Points) 02/06/2017): "Despite his manic temperament, impulsiveness and emotional infantility, this acumen [for branding] gives him real and in some ways profound communication skills. The two don't cancel each other out. They are both always present. They grow from the same root."

And on the ideas we wants to sell with his branding (bold in original):

Trump is Surrounded By Extremists and Desperados: Trump is primarily driven by impulse, grievance, the need to dominate and the need to be praised. There are core political beliefs Trump has had for decades which we should expect him to stick to. They almost all turn on being taken advantage of by other countries - whether in terms of trade or defense. The common thread is a deep belief in zero-sum relationships, whether in business or foreign affairs. As business columnist Joe Nocera put it after decades of observing Trump: "In every deal, he has to win and you have to lose." But if Trump's ideology is fluid, he has drawn around him advisors who can only be termed extremists. I believe the chief reason is that Trump's authoritarian personality resonates with extremist politics and vice versa. We should expect them to keep catalyzing each other in dangerous and frightening ways. [my emphasis in italics]
And David Bromwich, who had good insight into Obama's strangely ambiguous messaging and policy perspectives, writes about the new so-called President in Act One, Scene One London Review of Books 06/16/2017 issue, accessed 02/07/2017.

Comparing his style to his predecessor's, Bromwich writes, "If Obama often seemed an image of deliberation without appetite, Trump has always been the reverse. For him, there is no time to linger: from the first thought to the first motion is a matter of seconds; the last aversion or appetite triggers the jump to the deed." And, "[Trump] is the loudmouth at the bar, cocksure and full of himself and you may want him to stop, but you catch his drift. Trump is short-winded, vulgar and lowbrow, where Obama was long-winded, refined and impeccably middlebrow."

In this passage, he gives us a perspective on the Democrats' timidity on policy and how Obama's commitment to Bipartisanship fits within it:

With the election and partial legitimation of Trump against the massed energy of the Democratic Party, many Republicans and virtually all the mainstream media, we have witnessed a revolution of manners. Will a political revolution follow? What is ominous is the uncertainty and the leaderless state of the opposition. The Democrats are at their lowest ebb since 1920, and this is anything but a sudden misfortune: the loss of nerve started with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, which surprised the Democrats and shook their confidence in the tenability of the welfare state, and the threat to mixed constitutional government was clear in the 1994 midterm election, when 367 Republican candidates signed the Contract with America, with its pledge to slash government spending in the first hundred days of a new Congress. The contract was the precursor of the Tea Party – its instigator, Newt Gingrich, has become a leading adviser to Donald Trump. The Democrats behaved persistently as if the Republican hostility to government-as-such were a curable aberration. Yet eight years of Obama have ended with his party’s loss of the presidency, its relegation to a minority in both houses of Congress and – something that happened when no one was counting – the loss of 900 seats in state legislatures. Any return to majority status must begin at the local and state levels, yet in the 50 states of the union, the Republican Party has 33 governors and now controls 32 legislatures. The losses grew steeper with every mishap, from the delay of the Affordable Care Act in 2009 to the standoff over the national debt ceiling in the summer of 2011. Yet after Obama’s re-election, as the PBS Frontline documentary Divided States of America vividly recalled, he thought he was in 2008 again, the old mandate renewed, and would say to reporters in 2012 and 2014 just as he had done in 2010: ‘the [Republican] fever will break.’ [my emphasis in bold]
Bromwich also includes a sobering list of major elements of "national security state that Obama inherited and broadened, and has now passed on to Trump."

This is also a memorable observation, "The pride of a demagogue is never quite compatible with sanity; and none of Trump’s actions has so perplexed the media and dismayed his party as his ordering of an investigation into possible illegalities in the election that delivered Republican control over all three branches of government."

Unfortunately, so is this, "Democrats have forgotten what it means to constitute an opposition." Unfortunately because it's so sadly true.

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