Monday, December 07, 2015

Joking aside: Trump is Unreasonable

Orin Kerr writes an excellent post repudiating Donald Trump. As a right-of-center troll, sometimes it looks like I support Trump. I don't -- I repudiate everything about Trump.

I often defend Trump, but only because I defend fairness. Sometimes people attack Trump for identical policies supported by their own favorite politicians. Sometimes they take Trump's bad policies and make them even worse by creating "strawman" versions of them. Because I believe in fairness, I'll defend even Trump from unfair attacks.

But Trump is an evil politician. Trump is "fascism-lite". You'll quickly cite Godwin's Law, but fascism is indeed the proper comparison. He's nationalistic, racist, populist, and promotes the idea of a "strongman" -- all the distinctive hallmarks of Nazism and Italian Fascism.

Scoundrels, like Trump, make it appear that opposition is unreasonable, that they are somehow sabotaging progress, and that all it takes is a strongman with the "will" to overcome them. But the truth is that in politics, reasonable people disagree. I'll vigorously defend my politics and call yours wrong, but at the end of the day, we can go out and have a beer together without hating each other. Trump-style politicians, on the other hand, do everything in their power to delegitimatize or dehumanize their opponents, stoking the fires of hate.

If only we had a strong leader, one able to overcome the illegitimate opposition, then progress can be made. That was the fundamental argument of Mussolini's "Fascist" party, and later Hitler's. It's a morally bankrupt position, as Benito and Adolf shows us. Gridlock often happens in a Democracy. For all that you don't get what you want, because of political gridlock, the more democratic a society, and the more "political" everything is, the more prosperity they enjoy.

Trump's racism is almost childlike in its simplicity, But even here, there's an undercurrent of fascism. Trump describes the Mexicans and Chinese as "clever" people who take advantage of us. Despite his protestations that he likes the Mexicans and Chinese, this comes uncomfortably close to Nazism. Hitler killed Gypsies and Slavs in huge numbers, but the particular hatred he had for Jews was that they were a "clever" people taking advantage of Aryans.

While we reject Trump, we still need to take his positions seriously. What do you call somebody who is stupid, uneducated, crazy, and bigoted? The answer is "voter". Trump knows this, and appeals to these people are just fed up being called stupid, crazy, and bigoted. No, that doesn't mean we enact racist policies that Trump proposes. But it does mean that we take voters seriously, explaining yet again why bigotry matters, rather than simply shrugging them off.

Anyway, this post is trying to just make it clear that I don't support Trump in any way. All the remaining Democrat/Republican candidates in the race are reasonable people that would make adequate presidents, except for Trump. Sure, they all have their downsides, but they are all about average for politicians. The only one that's exceptional and unreasonable is Trump.


Matt said...

I have been very disappointed to see the support that Trump gets. Even after his racism is clear is still has a lot of support. Sad.

You also wrote: "All the remaining Democrat/Republican candidates in the race are reasonable people that would make adequate presidents…" Do you really think Ben Carson would make an adequate president?

GB said...

All the things you say about Trump could be applied to Hillary as well. I don't see how he could be worse than her, and that's coming from a democrat.

In any case, here's Scott Adams take on the issue:

Matt said...

B.J. that is a strange thing to say. I don't think Hillary is a racist, I have not heard her say anything bigoted. I am pretty sure she does not fit any definition of a fascist.

Jess said...

Trump's main advantage so far is his willingness to say anything no matter how obviously false or contrary to the conventional wisdom. One might have thought that conventional politicians are also quite willing to say anything that might get them votes. It turns out that while falsehood doesn't bother them, the prevailing conventional wisdom of the pundits and journos and wonks completely constrains most politicians' thoughts, words, and actions.

This may be related to the fact that nearly anything can be ginned up into a "scandal" these days. Told an off-color joke? That will get you fired from the county board of supervisors. Expressed an idiosyncratic opinion in an interview? Forget any party support in your run for the state legislature. At every level, politicians must constantly calibrate their persona so as not to offend any random constituency of wingnuts while retaining enough shreds of personality to attract the interest of voters. (Don't feel too sorry for them. Their counterparts in the state and federal bureaucracies eventually learn that personality is entirely detrimental to careers.)

Trump's public career has allowed him to skip the personality shredder. His "success" has never depended on hewing to any political convention. He spent part of his inheritance making a name for himself through risky real estate development and eventually, reality television. There are many options available for wealthy heirs who wish to spend portions of their inheritances, and none of them require listening to some pundit. The shortcut he took seems similar to that of any entertainer or athlete who runs for political office. He has aimed higher than most such candidates do, but really it was only the honesty of someone like Jesse Ventura that prevented him from doing what Trump has done. Whether Trump is elected this time or not, one expects to see many imitators over the next several cycles.

Unknown said...

Well Said! While I don't always agree with your politics, I appreciate your openness for discussion, your well crafted statements and most importantly, the fact that you are consistent in your core positions of independence, a distrust in bureaucracy, and an emphasis on fairness.

I have been bandying around the notion with my core circle that Trump should separate from the GOP, for which he holds so much animus (and from whom so much animus flows his way in return) , and consider running as a third party candidate.

While there are plenty of hitler/trump memes to go around, and all joking aside, his policies and attitudes towards many issues align quite neatly with the Nationalist platforms of a number of European countries, both currently, and historically. His use of propaganda, "facts" and his us vs. them approach to stirring racial, religious and security fears are all straight out of the Facist playbook.

As a GOP candidate, he may be palatable to some of the GOP as a slightly zany "fresh ideas guy", but if he was running under a Nationalist banner, I believe people would see his policies, and the danger that a Trump presidency would put us in as a nation.