A Philosopher's Blog

UnTrumpable

Posted in Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on August 31, 2015

When Trump first threw his hair into the ring, many pundits and comedians assumed his campaign would be a short-lived (but extremely funny) misadventure in political theater. However, Trump has not only managed to stay in the fight, he seems to be winning. As this is being written Donald Trump enjoys a commanding lead over the other Republican candidates. He is even closing on the Democrats’ presumed nominee, Hilary Clinton.

While the specifics of Trump’s adventures are not particularly philosophical, his success does provide a foundation for a discussion of the state of American politics. To be honest, though, I just want to write about Trump. Like everyone else.

As a general rule, when a serious political candidate engages in gaffes (especially involving race or gender), the result is often a career ending injury. At the very least, the politician’s handlers get him (or her) into damage control: there are walk backs, clarifications, insincere apologies and all the usual spin. Interestingly, Trump has claimed that Mexico is sending criminals and rapist to America (though there are some good people) and that war hero John McCain is not a hero. Trump has an interesting track record of saying awful things about women and created a stir with his remarks about Megyn Kelly. While pundits and comedians expected these sort of things to damage Trump’s standing, they seem to have contributed to his success.

One reason that these remarks might not have harmed Trump is that they are exactly the sort of things people should expect Trump to say—Trump has been a media star for decades and his ways should surprise no one at this point. To use an analogy, if your rabidly socialist cousin Sarah starts ranting about corporations after she has knocked back several glasses of Merlot at Thanksgiving, you would not be surprised at all. That is what Sarah has done and what Sarah will do, at least until the workers’ revolution. If your Wall Street financier cousin Laura started ranting about the evils of money and corporations, then you would be very surprised. So, one lesson from this is that politicians who have established media personalities clearly suffer little from remaining in character. After all, they are doing exactly what they do and if it has not hurt them much yet, it probably will not cause undo damage now.

Trump’s remarks seem to have actually helped him. One possible reason for this is that there is probably a significant number of Americans, especially conservatives, who are tired of politics as usual. While all the insider Republican candidates claim to be opposed to politics as usual, their words do not match their engaging in politics as usual. Trump, in contrast, is not engaging in politics as usual. As noted above, he does not walk back his comments and even his expression of regret is more of a “sorry, not sorry” than an actual apology. Ironically, Trump is delivering on what is but an empty promise from other politicians and they seem rather confused as to why he is doing so well. It seems to have something to do with the fact that he is spiking the ball they set up with their words.

While most Americans are now very uncomfortable about overt racism, there is a significant percentage of the population that is rather worried about the fact that the United States will soon cease to be a majority white nation. While the other Republicans skirt around this concern with talk about border security and immigration, Trump is not afraid to lay out an immigration plan that addresses this directly. His opposition to birthright citizenship, a core component of American values, is a clear statement of this view. While such straight talk is avoided by the other Republicans, in part because they wish to court the Latino and Hispanic votes, Trump is merely pulling away the veil to reveal what seems to be a very real concern of many conservatives. While this might make it harder for him to win in the general election, it seems to be working quite well with many Republicans. There are, after all, many people who say things like “I’m not racist, it is just that Mexicans and blacks are more likely to commit crimes and they are not as capable as whites” and sincerely believe what they say.

While most Americans are also quite uncomfortable with overt sexism, there is clearly a significant percentage of the population that is fine with women having a lower status relative to men. At the very least, they are quite comfortable with casual sexism. A significant number of conservatives are opposed to equal pay for women (on the grounds that while it is fine to impose things like transvaginal ultrasounds and abortion waiting periods on women, it is wrong to impose on employers) and other matters relating to women’s rights. As such, it hardly surprising that Trump is doing well. While the other candidates do endeavor to appear to be pro-life and against compelling businesses to provide pay equity or maternity leave for women, they generally avoid harsh engagements with women. Trump, however, engaged Megyn Kelly head on, thus earning more ire from women. While this did give the one female Republican candidate a boost, it also seems to have helped Trump. After all, he is open in his views of women and this sort of sincerity is no doubt quite appealing to conservatives who wish they had the Trumps to say the same things. These are the sort of folks who say things like “I’m not a sexist, but women are just not as capable as men and paying them the same as men for the same work would violate the freedom of employers. But I’m sort of fine with transvaginal ultrasounds. And yes, Viagra should be covered by insurance, but not birth control.”

One thing that really strikes me about Trump is that he has shown that he is clearly willing to fight with certain parts of Fox News. This has, as might be imagined, surprised many of the pundits. After all, Fox News has long enjoyed its position as one of the masters of the Republican Party and it would seem insane for a Republican to spat with Fox. That was, after all, Jon Stewart’s job. Accusing the “lame stream” media of bias and asking “gotcha questions” has been the job of Republicans and the conservative media.

One reason Trump can go after parts of Fox is that he is a media star in his own right—the networks simply cannot not cover his Trumpings. Other candidates have to maintain good relations with Fox and at least be somewhat tolerable to the other major media channels.

Another reason Trump can engage in fights with the media, including some parts of Fox, is that he is exploiting a narrative created by conservatives and, rather ironically, the right-leaning media (such as Fox). Fox, Republican politicians and folks like Rush Limbaugh have railed against the media for being a filter, for being biased, and for having an agenda. They crafted a narrative of being against the “lame steam” media, but these attacks seem to have had the effect of generating the potential for hostility against all media. So, Trump is able to make the claim that he is being mistreated by the media and being subject to unfair questions. The irony is that he is using the conservative and Fox narrative about the media against Fox News.

Since Fox and the others crafted a fine sword calculated to cut the media, it should not be surprising that Trump has taken up this blade and turned it against those who hoped to use him as a viewership generator. Unless, of course, this is all part of a plan: a manufactured battle to generate even more viewership.

Given all these factors, it should not be surprising that Trump is doing well. Despite this, most serious pundits claim that Trump will not be the Republican candidate. And, they say, even if he were he could still not win the general election.

While Trump could blow up, implode or get tired of the game, he could also maintain his success and take the nomination. He could even win the presidential election. Here is how it might go down.

First, voter turnout in the United States is low—most potential voters do not vote. Many of these voters would probably vote Democrat while many of the folks who reliably vote tend to be more conservative. The Republicans have also been busy making it harder for those likely to support Democrats to vote. This is done under the guise of fighting the all but non-existent voter fraud. While the impact of these laws will probably be less than liberals fear, they will still have an impact—far more than the mostly make-believe voter fraud that Republicans profess to fear (as they deny vast amounts of evidence for climate change).

Second, there is the Hillary Factor. While Hillary Clinton is popular with many Democrats and independents, this popularity has been eroded—in part due to the issue of the private email server. Clinton’s supporters will certainly lack the fire of Obama’s supporters—though a more charismatic and likeable female candidate could probably fire up supporters to a degree on par with how Obama motivated people in 2008. But, while Hillary is a woman, she seems to be just another politician who happens to wear pantsuits rather than pants.

The growing popularity of Bernie Sanders might require Hillary to go left to win the primaries or even have him as her vice presidential candidate. Since Bernie is an avowed socialist and most actual voters are moderates, this could push people who would otherwise vote for the Democrat to vote for Trump or not vote (which would help Trump). While many Republicans would probably admit in private that Hillary Clinton would be a much better president than Trump, the majority of them would vote for Trump over Hillary—and certainly over Bernie Sanders. As such, a combination of voter apathy and a dislike of Clinton could make Trump the next President of the United States. So, America, prepare for some Quality.

 

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on August 31, 2015 at 9:52 am

    It should be obvious what’s going on with Trump. The GOP is in the process of revamping itself into a leaner, more politically correct, BIG TENT party, and it’s using Trump to gather up the nativist, racist — non-PC — trash within the ranks of the GOP so they can be removed from the party once and for all (via demonization). The demonization has already begun. Anyone who supports Trump is a racist. End of story. Donald Trump’s Nativist Campaign is Rallying Racist Supporters http://on.reason.com/l/jKkL

  2. TJB said, on August 31, 2015 at 11:56 am

    “…there is a significant percentage of the population that is rather worried about the fact that the United States will soon cease to be a majority white nation…”

    Always with the racial thinking. I read right-of-center opinion all the time and thinkers on the right do not view the world in racial terms. It is the Left that see the world through a racial prism.

    And anyway, what race are Hispanics, Mike?

    • TJB said, on August 31, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      This just in. Republicans are not tribal the way the Dems are.

      Donald J. Trump likes to brag that he leads his Republican rivals in every poll, but a new poll on Monday showed him with company at the top of the field.

      According to a survey of likely Republican Iowa caucus-goers from Monmouth University, Ben Carson is tied with Mr. Trump in Iowa. The poll marks the first time in more than a month that the billionaire tycoon was not leading a poll in one of the first four states to hold nominating contests.

      http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/08/31/ben-carson-ties-donald-trump-in-iowa-poll/?_r=0

  3. ronster12012 said, on September 1, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Michael

    …………………………………………………………………
    “As a general rule, when a serious political candidate engages in gaffes (especially involving race or gender), the result is often a career ending injury. At the very least, the politician’s handlers get him (or her) into damage control: there are walk backs, clarifications, insincere apologies and all the usual spin. ”
    ………………………………………………………………….

    And even after the apology there is no forgiveness as alleged transgression will be brought up ad infinitum………….so how long does it take for the average dumb as a rock political operative to understand….
    DON”T APOLOGISE. Ever. It seems.Trump understands this and good on him too. His great contribution will be giving permission to people(those who feel they need permission, at least) to actually say what they think and NEVER apologise. People should try it, it works….

    I like this quote re David Duke’s alleged endorsement

    Asked if he would repudiate an endorsement from Duke, he replied: “Sure.”

    “I would do that if it would make you feel better,” he said, adding “I don’t know anything about him.”

    It’s a great comeback and a tad more polite than telling the reporter to go fuck themselves…

    …………………………………………………………
    “While most Americans are now very uncomfortable about overt racism, there is a significant percentage of the population that is rather worried about the fact that the United States will soon cease to be a majority white nation.”
    ………………………………………………………….

    Uncomfortable? I take that to mean conditioned to feel ‘uncomfortable’ about certain ideas. Unfortunately for them, and all white people worldwide similarly afflicted, the rest of the world doesn’t buy into that nonsense. Even your blacks and hispanics don’t buy into it, and jews are the biggest racists going……. hence La Raza , the NAACP and the ADL whose racist objectives are to fuck whitey up.

    .For most people on this planet, racism is as common and as natural as breathing.

    ………………………………………………………….

    “While most Americans are also quite uncomfortable with overt sexism, there is clearly a significant percentage of the population that is fine with women having a lower status relative to men.”
    …………………………………………………………..

    I think it is more correct to say ‘overt sexism against white women’ rather than overt sexism in general. When was the last time blacks or hispanics were accused of sexism…..or a woman was accused of sexism against a man? Just a BS political campaign like many things…

    So, I think Trump is the most excellent thing to turn up in politics for quite a while…

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 1, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      So, you mostly agree with my analysis of Trump?

      In the context of Hip Hop, there are women who are critical of what they regard as black male misogyny. But, you are right, in the United States feminism is largely a movement of and for white women (usually, as leftists like to say, women of privilege).

      • ronster12012 said, on September 2, 2015 at 6:40 am

        Michael

        i do agree with much of your analysis. On the point of :

        ……………………………………………………
        “One reason that these remarks might not have harmed Trump is that they are exactly the sort of things people should expect Trump to say—Trump has been a media star for decades and his ways should surprise no one at this point.’
        …………………………………………………….

        That applies to everyone else too. It’s surprising what one can get away with in conversation with friends etc or anyone really as long as it’s in character. Many won’t do this for fear of being judged but say what you want, whenever you want and don’t care about the consequences……and people somehow accept it. Perhaps that is what many are responding to in Trump.

        ……………………………………………………..
        “First, voter turnout in the United States is low—most potential voters do not vote. ”
        ……………………………………………………..

        For trivia’s sake,in Oz we have compulsory voting or more strictly speaking, compulsory attendance at a polling booth…..no one is actually forced to vote, and if you don’t attend you get a slap on the wrist fine of $20(for being too stupid and/or lazy to think up a semi plausible excuse lol). And voting is always on a Saturday, never a weekday. The original intent was not to force people to vote which some people say is undemocratic( but ancient Athenians were punished severely for failing to vote) but to make sure that no one, government or non governmental, could impede voting.

        ………………………………………………………..

        “In the context of Hip Hop, there are women who are critical of what they regard as black male misogyny. But, you are right, in the United States feminism is largely a movement of and for white women (usually, as leftists like to say, women of privilege).”
        …………………………………………………………

        In the context of Hip Hop I would be very surprised if some women weren’t critical of it…..but it is black culture (or at least one representation of it) so non blacks might be reluctant to point out the obvious.

        I should have added moslems and orthodox jews to the mix as they both can be regarded as misogynistic but for some reason(no prizes for guessing) are never mentioned as such.

  4. T. J. Babson said, on September 1, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    “First, voter turnout in the United States is low—most potential voters do not vote.”

    Actually, polls have shown that much of Trump’s support comes from these very people. Be careful what you wish for.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 2, 2015 at 9:11 am

      So, total trump victory?

      • TJB said, on September 9, 2015 at 4:45 pm

        Mike, I was referring to you, not Trump. How else to explain sentences like the below:

        “While most Americans are now very uncomfortable about overt racism, there is a significant percentage of the population that is rather worried about the fact that the United States will soon cease to be a majority white nation.”

        “While most Americans are also quite uncomfortable with overt sexism, there is clearly a significant percentage of the population that is fine with women having a lower status relative to men. At the very least, they are quite comfortable with casual sexism.”

        Meanwhile, in the real world (as opposed to Mike’s Matrix), 40 million people living in the U.S. were not born here, and 1981 was the last year that more men than women graduated from a four-year undergraduate program.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 10, 2015 at 3:45 pm

          That 40 million people living here were not born here and that more women now graduate then men are both consistent with my claims.

          But, if almost everyone is cool with the end of majority whiteness and nearly everyone thinks that women should have the same status as men,then that is great. So, can I tick off “End Racism” and “End Sexism” on our national to do list?

          • TJB said, on September 10, 2015 at 4:02 pm

            “That 40 million people living here were not born here and that more women now graduate then men are both consistent with my claims.”

            Really? I would think these facts argue against the U.S. being a nation of sexist xenophobes.

            • WTP said, on September 10, 2015 at 4:53 pm

              Perhaps you’re underestimating the concentration of racism and sexism in the 40 million newbies.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 11, 2015 at 9:25 am

              I did not claim that the U.S. Is a nation of sexist xenophobia. I claimed that Trump is appealing to segments of the population who fear the end of majority whiteness and are okay with sexism.

              Such segments certainly seem to exist.

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 11, 2015 at 9:35 am

              “Such segments certainly seem to exist.”

              That goes without saying. But they are insignificant as the facts clearly show.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 11, 2015 at 1:19 pm

              So, nothing to see here?

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 11, 2015 at 2:21 pm

              There is always something to see. Trump will fade. He lost a lot by attacking Carly Fiorina’s looks.

              Carson will overtake Trump soon.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 14, 2015 at 12:27 pm

              Never count the Donald out. But, as you say, Carson is gaining on Trump.

            • TJB said, on September 14, 2015 at 2:28 pm

              I refuse to believe we will elect a guy who cheats at golf.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 15, 2015 at 5:17 pm

              True. American voters value golf integrity.

          • ronster12012 said, on September 11, 2015 at 9:01 am

            Michael

            ……………………………………….
            “But, if almost everyone is cool with the end of majority whiteness and nearly everyone thinks that women should have the same status as men,then that is great. So, can I tick off “End Racism” and “End Sexism” on our national to do list?’
            ………………………………………..

            Surely you are joking? End of majority whiteness= beginning of identity politics. How did you all get so conned into thinking that you had something to be ashamed of and that you had to atone for creating a great country by throwing it all away? Pathological altruism? And what will it achieve in the end, especially when you whites are the only ones giving up your ethno/cultural solidarity? Expect the same magnanimity from those to whom you gave up power……you may be in for a surprise. No *real* multicultural society has ever worked in the long term that I can think of. The US may be different but it is a big gamble for no real payoff.

            As for women having the same status as men, please tell me why they should. This isn’t trolling, just checking assumptions. The assumption seems to be that women and men are equal. Is that based on anything more than politics? Biologically we are not equal. nor physically, nor emotionally. Sure we(men) all say they are equal because to say otherwise just too much hassle, the never ending whining, namecalling and shaming,ostracism,boycotting, the loss of friendship, access to vaginas, meals on the table etc but just because we agree to not actually say it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

            • T. J. Babson said, on September 11, 2015 at 9:43 am

              “End of majority whiteness= beginning of identity politics.”

              This is an excellent point that I had not considered before. Perhaps the divisive politics of today is merely a taste of what is coming…

            • ronster12012 said, on September 12, 2015 at 4:30 am

              TJ

              All part of the plan. Have everyone at each others throats while govcorp sits back giving itself more power to make laws to shut the locals up.

              In Oz we have have a similar situation. We had a huge postwar migration program, mainly Italians, Dutch, Greeks, Germans and Yugos. All white europeans and on the same page culturally. Their kids just blended in.
              All good.

              Now our idiotic(and treasonous) gov brings in unassimilable moslems and others. To me at least it is not a personal thing, I don’t hate moslems or anyone else per se, simply the effects of large numbers of them. Once a critical mass is reached their political power increases enormously. A vocal and united ethnic group versus an undifferentiated mass of locals wins every time.

              I have had debates here with people that think that as long as all groups obey the law then all is fine. What they don’t appreciate is that once a group achieves enough power the laws can and will be changed. If even 10% of a population refuse to recognise a law what is anyone going to do? Arrest them all or change the law to make the problem go away?

              So, you can look forward to identity politics on steroids against people who do not recognise your right to exist as you have.
              It may not happen next week or next month or next year but in a decade or so our countries will be unrecognisable.

            • TJB said, on September 12, 2015 at 6:59 pm

              ronster, where are the Muslim immigrants coming from? Indonesia? Are the Indonesian Muslims more able to assimilate than Muslims from other parts of the world?

            • ronster12012 said, on September 13, 2015 at 8:21 am

              TJB

              Muslim migrants seem to come mainly from the Middle East though I am not sure of exact numbers. We had a lot of Lebanese Catholics come here in the 1970’s and 80’s due to the civil war (another one of the joys of *real* multiculturalism lol), and you’d never find a bunch of bigger Islamophobes ever. Total muslim population in Australia is around 500,000 or was last time I looked that is about 2.5 % of the population.

              I don’t know how many muslim immigrants there are from Indo, my guess is not a huge amount…..but I am a bit out of things as I have lived out here in the sticks for 10 years….I have been to Indo a few times over the years and they are not a strict islamic society(a la Saudi) though there are some who are, ie. the Bali bombing.

              My points about multiculturalism are really about demographics and culturally cohesive societies and how identity politics is such a bad thing. When I was a kid, there was the Protestant/Catholic divide. That has since evaporated. That divide was only minor compared to say the muslim/christian one where there is so much to disagree about.

              cheers

  5. TJB said, on September 2, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    The below is quite profound, actually.

    What Orwell did not completely understand is that Newspeak required the creation of a simulated universe. To understand this, note this common programming expression

    var rightNow = new Date();

    Most programmers don’t care much about the variable name. The string “rightNow” is essentially unimportant. One could have used “thisMinuteor” or “thisVerySecond”. What’s important is the what the variable points to, in this case a new Date object. In normal human language the same concept applies. The words “God”, “Dios” or “Deus” are merely alternative ways of pointing to the same underlying concept that exists independently of the word.

    But in politics things are different. In politics words are reality. The variable name “rightNow” may actually point to nothing. But that is no matter, because everything’s fake. The fake code compiles in the bogus compiler. Even the runtime is simulated. One’s code doesn’t execute. It only appears to execute. In a complete Newspeak universe fake words produce fake events and the world celebrates fake achievements.

    As such they create a substitute universe that replaces the real one. For example, North Korea recently opened a park in Damascus, Syria which as an objective act can hardly be more ridiculous. It makes no realistic sense for a repressive, bankrupt Asian dictatorship to inaugurate a park in the war-torn capital of a dying autocracy in the Middle East. It is totally absurd. But the entire inaugural ceremony, like the replacement of pronouns or the renaming of Alaskan rocks, serves an entirely synthetic purpose. It has no real purpose, only one with respect to the simulation.

    The ceremony to mark the opening of Kim Il-sung Park in the Kafar Sussa District on Monday was attended by a range of high-ranking government officials, who declared that Syria-North Korea relations were strong.

    Syria’s deputy foreign minister Fayssal Mikdad said in a statement that North Korea represented an example for Syria in its own civil war, Yonhap news agency reported.

    In the actual world Syria is a mess. Of the 22.4 million prewar populaton, 7.6 million are now living in refugee camps, 4 million are living with relatives in neighboring countries and 250,000 are dead. The actual Syria is destroyed. But in the simulated Syria, everything is just fine and nothing is more important than Assad commemorating the burgeoning friendship of the North Korean and Syrian peoples.

    The same dynamic obtains, but to a lesser degree, in the West. The Obama administration might have failed at everything it tried, but it has achieved a whole series of “firsts”. We have the First Latina to head OPM, the first trangender official in the White House, the first renamed peak in Alaska, etc. Simulated reality, a replacement of real events by their symbolic counterparts, is such an important part of political life in the 21st century that Assad will inaugurate a ludicrous amusement facility in Damascus or cause the president of the United States to rename rocks.

    But not everyone is aware of the absurdity of the situation. Many people actually live in this fantastic world; laughing on cue, clapping with the laughtrack and buying into the narrative. They don’t realize they’re living in a political Matrix. One would think that living in a lie for any extent of time is impossible. In fact, it is quite possible to live inside an unchallenged fantasy for a long time unless we deliberately challenge it.

    http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2015/09/01/the-politics-of-symbolism/

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 3, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      Is Trump Neo or Agent Smith? Morpheus? Or Cypher? I know he’s not Trinity.

    • WTP said, on September 9, 2015 at 11:47 am

      For some reason, missed this until checking the browser on my phone just now. The absurdity, the fantasy, the buying into the narrative, the living inside an unchallenged narrative. All aspects of what I’ve been pointing out here for years. Especially that last one. As for it being possible to live inside an unchallenged fantasy for a long time unless we challenge it…that time period, be it long or short, is at the mercy of that evil, jealous bitch called Reality to which I referred earlier.

      Either thinking people challenge these absurdities and ways are changed or She will eventually notice that these fantasies have taken Her place. Fail to pay Her Her due respect and She will slice you like a f’n hammer ( to channel Paul Anka). She may not notice your minor indiscretions over the short term, She being quite occupied with her other seditious subjects, but once She has you in Her sights you better get religion real quick. When Reality in on the rag, watch out.

      Gods of the Copybook Headings and all…

      You will take appropriate note of the clown-nose response. What else could he say?


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