Sunday, November 13, 2016

I don't believe in the gloom and doom of Trump - besides, identity politics is dead

I don't believe in the gloom and doom of Trump that I see trumpeted all over the news and social media. People are crying, protesting, and making very dour predictions of how horrible Trump will be as president. I'm just not buying all of it.

While it is fair to say that all the awful things that people are saying about the outcome of the election can be seen as a call to action, they are just opinions not predictions. I am still an optimist. Yes, there are many people who are upset about the election and there are some people who have cause to celebrate with the rise of Trump. I have faith, and I think of faith as a reservation of judgment. I am not upset. I am not happy. I am agnostic. I am just an observer watching the parade pass by.

I err on the side of faith in times of disarray or even danger. I resist the urge to panic and go the other way, so rest assured, I have no plans to move to Canada. I just watch what people are doing and make a determination of what to do next. I avoid making important decisions under emotional duress. I've been burned by too many salesmen and have learned my lessons well. I also make an effort to avoid the emotional duress in the first place, too.

To put it differently, I watch what is happening and if I feel strong emotions, I let the feelings pass and then I decide how to act. I've practiced this response for decades and it has served me well. My experience of taking action based upon a strong emotion has served me well. In nearly every case, thinking before acting has served me better than taking a rash action based upon a strong feeling.

My response to Trump is no different. I honestly don't know what to make of Trump. I really don't know if he's good or bad given the shape shifting persona he has presented during the entirety of his campaign. Yes, he's said some nasty things. He might have even done some things that I don't approve of. But so far, he's not sent anyone to war. He's not sent bombs, troops or drones to Syria. He hasn't done anything even remotely as bad as Hillary did as Secretary of State, or even George W. Bush as president. Inauguration is still 2 months away.

Trump is an entertainer and that's all I see in him so far. During this election he has been willing to say and do anything to get elected and he got elected. Hillary did the same thing, but she lost the election because so few people believed in her and liked her. Sweet, sweet irony, I know. Whether or not the Trump we saw during the campaign is a true indication of the kind of man he will be as our next president, well, I don't know.

When faced with a big change, like with this election, I just wait and see what happens next. It's like Bernie said. To the extent that he's willing to work with us on progressive values, Trump has my support. To the extent that he's not, I will withdraw my support of him. He's going to be president, so we might as well set aside our feelings and figure out how to deal with him and that requires thinking before acting. Protesting him will only send up his guard and that adds difficulty to working with him. Remember that he is still reviled by many establishment Republicans, some of whom said they would vote for Clinton and probably did.

Four days out after the colossal failure of Hillary Clinton, I still see headlines and pictures of thousands of people protesting Trump as president. The vast majority of the protesters very likely voted for Hillary in the primaries. During the primaries, I watched as many people, including myself, were harassed and bullied into voting for Clinton. I guess I'm having an "I told you so" moment.

Today, legions of Clinton supporters exhibit a willingness to protest in the streets over an election that seems free of the all the "irregularities" we saw in the primaries. Clinton supporters seem unwilling to admit that Sanders very likely would have won where Clinton lost. They don't have clean hands. They are intent on focusing on the gloom and doom of Trump rather than organizing to get what they really want: better economic conditions.

Instead of admitting their mistakes, the Clinton team has cast blame upon Sanders supporters, those who voted third party and of course, the Russians. They used their power to rig the primaries and in so doing, ignored all the warning signs that said she was going to lose anyway. All of their collusion with the press to shape the narrative only increased their ignorance of the public sentiments about them. All the efforts to purge voters, close polling stations and finagle the state and national convention votes in the primaries further insulated the Clinton campaign team from reality.

If you're focused on rigging the game, you're not paying attention to the voters. If the dingalings at DNC truly believed in representing their base, especially all the new voters that Sanders was bringing in, they would have found a way to accept the success that Bernie Sanders had with voters as feedback on who the voters wanted as nominee. Instead they ridiculed Sanders supporters and did everything they could to disenfranchise them. What the DNC did to Bernie Sanders and his supporters was a monumental example of willful ignorance that cost them this election.

By rigging the primaries, they angered the very people they would need to support Hillary in the general election. I'd say that's very poor judgment. Team Clinton does not have clean hands, either.

Trump didn't do any of that. Trump prevailed against some of the most powerful Republicans in the primaries, despite very well organized opposition to him.

Trump also invite Sanders supporters with open arms, something Clinton was loathe to do. I bet a few million Sanders supporters did vote for him anyway, just to spite Clinton. There is even evidence to support the idea of the closet Trump voter. Political scientist Tom Ferguson noted in an interview with Paul Jay at the Real News Network, that exit polls among college age women showed Clinton with a mere 6% more votes than Trump. Isn't that odd?

Ferguson also stated that the Democratic Party's strategy of combining Wall Street money with identity politics is dead. He echoed what Bernie Sanders said, too. This election was about the issues, not the identity of the person running for office.

Naked Capitalism led me to that Tom Ferguson video in this article. They analyzed Trump's victory speech and noted that there is reason for optimism in this article:
In Trump’s acceptance speech he said four encouraging things:
* America wants to live in peace with all other nations — no more wars, no more invasions.
* He mentioned that he has over 200 retired generals and admirals consulting with him, which raises the possibility that this was just maybe a Pentagon-led insurrection against Hillary’s plans for WWIII. The Pentagon has never won an honest war game against Iran, and most admirals admit that our sixteen aircraft carriers are just fat, slow targets for swarms of supersonic Russian and Chinese and Iranian missiles. The Pentagon doesn’t want a real war; they just want more money for new toys.
* He said we are going to rebuild our infrastructure here at home.
* He said we will create millions of jobs here rebuilding our infrastructure.
None of that is edible to a neoliberal.
Obama and both Clintons are neoliberals. In contrast, Trump doesn't seem to have the stomach for war as neoliberals do. Trump has expressed a strong interest in building American infrastructure, which for some reason, neoliberals have neglected.

If Trump is true to his word on infrastructure, then it's a safe bet he can grow the economy. I know that building infrastructure works because I live in Utah. There are cone zones everywhere. They are constantly building, expanding and planning their roads, wiring and plumbing. Unemployment in Utah, as of August of this year was 3.7%. We're busy. Very busy. And when I see the cone zones, I know that those guys working on our roads are going to spend their money locally, and that grows the economy of the Beehive State.

There is something else positive about Trump, as reported by the BBC: Trump: Obamacare key provisions to remain. It's not repeal and replace. He sounds more like he wants to make Obamacare better. This is coming from a man who seems pretty confident that he can veto bills without worry. The Republicans have majorities in both houses, but they can't override vetoes without help from Democrats.

America has spent the majority of its life in war, 222 years to be more precise and there is no apparent end in sight. We have more than 800 military bases around the world, and from what I can see, the primary purpose of all that military power is not for war - it's for "free trade". If Trump can tamp down on the wars, that will further grow the economy at home instead of exporting pain. We just might find a higher form of capitalism than imperialism. You know, like peace.

If Trump manages to unwind a few really awful trade agreements like NAFTA and possibly the TPP if Obama somehow manages a lame duck vote on it, he will have made a good start. Note that Trump seemed to be the only candidate who consistently expressed opposition to trade agreements that cost Americans their jobs.

In a nutshell, it's far too early to tell how well Trump will do. It's also important to remember that he still faces enormous opposition from within the Republican party. If Trump is a true populist, defined as a member or adherent of a political party seeking to represent the interests of ordinary people, then there is reason for optimism. Whether Trump runs a populist or mainstream Republican presidency is still an open question.

Enough about Trump. What about the rest of us? Well, For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you push really, really hard on the universe, be prepared to duck. Clinton ducked after the election.

Bernie Sanders? He's been quietly organizing challenges to the top brass at the state level. He's endorsed a progressive Muslim, Keith Ellison, as chair of the DNC. He didn't sell us out. He's keeping the issues front and center wherever he can. If he's successful, and I think he will be, neoliberal Clinton shills are going to have a lot more light shining on them if they are still in place. Or they could be looking for work as Republicans if they're pushed out of their positions in the Democratic party. With leadership from Bernie Sanders, progressives in the Democratic party can work to clear out or call out the neoliberals who have abandoned the middle class for 40 years and counting.

The message from Bernie Sanders is that identity politics is dead. Trump proved Sanders right by winning the election. Anyone who fails to heed that message in American politics does so at their own peril.

For all of the reasons above, I remain an optimist.
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