Friday, July 15, 2016

Anger Over Trump Is Misdirected; To Paraphrase, It's the Stupid People, Stupid

I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night. Perhaps because we didn’t turn the air conditioner on until 4 am. The air was sticky until then. So when I woke up at 2:30 I found it difficult to resume sleep. Which resulted in the second, more dominant, factor that denied me a contented slumber.

I read from several news sites. My eyes kept getting wider and wider with consternation. Could Mr.- and Mrs.- and Miss- and Ms. America really be so angry, scared, bigoted and, most importantly, ignorant that they would vote for Donald Trump to be the beacon of leadership of the free world for the next four years? Could they really want to roll back progress in equality, in environmental protection, in equal opportunity, in race relations (no matter how frayed they may appear these days), in a host of other areas where we are so much better today than we were decades ago?

Yes, Hillary Clinton is a flawed candidate. But do they really think she favors her cronies more than Trump favors his fellow billionaires (assuming, of course, he really is a billionaire)? She professes a desire to put checks on the investment community. But don’t Wall Streeters and bankers realize they made gazillions during the last two Democratic presidents and almost lost it all during the last two Republican presidencies.

Republicans like to point out President Obama didn’t keep his word when Syria’s Assad crossed a red line and dropped chemical weapons on his people. No one would believe in our word anymore, they say. Yet they would support a man who openly acknowledged he would rip up treaties and agreements he didn’t like. Nothing the United States has signed would be meaningful any longer. And Trump has advocated for torture more extreme than waterboarding.

As he has for virtually all other issues, Donald Trump’s response to the killings of blacks by police and the assassination of five Dallas policemen is that we have to get “better, sharper and smarter.” No details, just get better, smarter and sharper.

As he has no political record to check, it might be instructive to look at how he has handled his business relations and how outside experts evaluate his plans. 

“Under Trump’s trade plans, we would see higher prices, fewer jobs, and a weaker economy,” says the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization that cannot be mistaken for a pro-Democratic sympathizer. The Chamber also believes Trump’s proposed tariffs “would strip us of at least 3.5 million jobs.”

Trump’s modus operandi in business appears to be to often unilaterally renegotiate agreed upon terms of service. Contractors who helped him build his casino empire say he reneged on full payments. 

Such a tactic might fatten his pockets while undercutting the profits of, and even bankrupting, his providers, but it is hardly a way to manage the U.S. economy.

Trump’s allies in securing the nomination of his party are the crazed Islamic terrorists who sow fear throughout the world. Isolated terrorists, even bands of two or three, are almost impossible to stop. Police states like Russia and Saudi Arabia can’t thwart dedicated, demented terrorists, much less so countries that cherish freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and even freedom to bear arms. 

The absence of a wall across the Mexican border hasn’t left America vulnerable to Islamic terrorists. As the only publicized “invasion” came from Canada in 1999, would a president Trump demand Canada pay for a wall across our more than 5,500-mile shared border?

As the coronation of the presumptive Republican presidential candidate nears, Republican thinkers not enamored with Trump are trying to forge a post-election comeback strategy for a party that has veered so far to the right even iconic presidents like Ronald Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt would not pass muster with the rabidly doctrinaire primary-voting fringe of discontents and non-compromisers.

David Brooks, the conservative Op-Ed columnist of The New York Times advises Republicans can be saved by harking back to progressive programs like those of Teddy Roosevelt.

“New sorts of political leaders emerged. In city after city, progressive reformers cleaned up politics and professionalized the civil service. Theodore Roosevelt went into elective politics at a time when few Ivy League types thought it was decent to do so. He bound the country around a New Nationalism and helped pass legislation that ensured capitalism would remain open, fair and competitive.” (

If there is one word conservatives have mocked in years past (aside from “liberal”) it is “progressive.” Roosevelt, according to, initiated the following progressive policies:
*He developed the “Square Deal,” a domestic program formed around three C’s—conservation of natural resources, control of corporations, and consumer protection; 
*He promoted the conservation movement and placed millions of acres of land under federal protection to preserve America’s natural resources; 
*He dissolved 44 monopolistic corporations and regulated railroad rates to protect the middle and working class; 
*He passed the Meat Inspection Act and Pure Food and Drug Act to better regulate food production and labeling.

Think, how many present-day conservatives would endorse any, much less all, of those programs?

Ross Douthat and Reihan Salami, co-authors of Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream, offered in The Times a re-imagined conservative platform that included assurances on Social Security and even healthcare benefits granted by Obamacare. Their vision is an admittedly Hail Mary option.

The prospect of a Trump presidency has unshackled long-cherished norms of decorum among interested poll watchers. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tripped mightily when publicly voicing her strong antipathy toward life under Trump ( She regretted her outspokenness, but did not retract any of her comments (

Scholars, as well, have joined the anti-Trump crusade ( Enlisted by historian David McCullough and documentarian Ken Burns, they have posted videos to a Facebook page, Historians on Donald Trump (

“For the first time in my life, I’m actually afraid that we Americans can forget who we are as a people and succumb to historical amnesia,” says Ron Chernow, Pulitzer Prize winning biographer and author of Alexander Hamilton. When that happens, when the historical record is scrubbed clean, Trump or any demagogue can come along and write upon it whatever he wants, says Chernow.

Don’t look now but even white male college graduates have embraced Trump ( It’s as damning a report card on the state of education in this country as any I have seen.

Trump’s implausible coalition includes the Religious Right. We need look no further than the evangelical community to see how expediency trumps (pun intended) values. “Nearly four-fifths of white evangelical voters plan to cast their ballots for Donald J. Trump despite his multiple marriages, lack of piety and inconsistency on the issues they care about most,” according to a Pew Research survey reported by The Times (  

I’m not angry at Trump. I’m angry at the electorate, at the stupid, self-centered, uninformed, xenophobic, even racist, ignorant, personality-driven voters willing to turn this country over to a man who, as McCullough points out, lacks any of the four key qualities President Dwight D. Eisenhower said a leader must possess: character, ability, responsibility and experience. 

It’s a wonder I get any sleep at all.