This isn’t a complete blog posting so much as a dump of various thoughts I’ve had, mostly regarding Trump and the state of US politics. Sometimes with international context.
Trump, in all likelihood, will not be a particularly successful president if his tenure as PEOTUS is indicative. The question is along what dimension will this be true. Will he fail to compromise with the GOP, getting into a tit for tat and stalling things out? Will the GOP abandon him if his popularity falls even further. It’s worth noting his popularity, pre-inauguration, is lower than George W Bush post-Katrina. How he will cope with this, again, is a total unknown.
We are, however, living through history. I have no idea what his presidency will bring. The only certainty is uncertainty.
Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties. And not to Democrats alone do I make this appeal, but to all who love these great and true principles. -Lincoln
It’s imperative to preserve the institutions of Washington. The norms. The civil society. If a Ted Cruz figure had won, I would in all likelihood be opposed. But in a “well damn, this is suboptimal” sort of way. I may be concerned that the rights of certain minority groups would be infringed. But I would not be afraid of wholesale assaults against the document which binds this government, and presumably gives it legitimacy. The institutions, for all the rotating doors and career politicians has put brakes on populism. Has put brakes on the sort of ad hoc twitter rule and of total outsiders. Has put brakes on attacks against the enemies of the president on twitter, and so on, and so on.
The democrats, through the primaries largely fought a battle of who was the morally pure liberal. Despite the accusations being flung at Clinton from the left that she wasn’t morally pure, many on the right radically disliked her not only for the accusations levied against her but what they perceived (correctly or not) as an assault on the institutions of middle america. Of Christian morals, of societal norms. The sort of moral outrage that has mobilized the left against Trump helped Trump mobilize his base. Regardless of what one thinks about what is morally or ethically correct, a devout Christian who thinks there to be an attack on marriage, and is accused of being a bigot for the beliefs they have for a long time held, is liable to vote for Trump. They, seeing the government and the social liberalism as the enemy will make it evil.
And this division is well exploited on platforms such as…
Tweets like this can be seen two ways:
We are in a situation where many feel lost. Disillusioned. And to simply attack their man, what they stand for, to say what they truly feel has no validity risks prolonging this sort of culture war. The left and the right will both tweet this. And they will see entirely different things. The left, an activist standing up for rights. The right, an idiot dancing on top of a car angering people who have opposed gay marriage due to community norms and longheld beliefs, not due to an inherent bigotry. These people, despite beliefs I disagree with, by and large hold no contempt for these people. But they are made to feel contempt by the way they are treated for their thoughts.
I really do think Trump is a candidate of twitter. Of short thoughts, punctuated with insults. I’m not sure he can be effectively beat on that terrain.
There he and others can shun arguments they disagree with. Block those they are opposed to. I have been blocked on twitter for pointing out a Wharton Graduate is bashing the necessity of expertise. A man who makes his living doing writing and editing contends that any man should be able to govern america.
Instead of addressing my argument that he, as somebody with significant expertise he expects to be compensated for that which he maintains should not exist in the presidency, he incorrectly went after my usage of it’s.
And it is this sort of hypocrisy the platform helps maintain, to those who follow these people.
Then again maybe I’m living in a fantasy work with an engaged public and an interested media with some level of trust.
But then again, reading twitter, many pundits and elites, on both the left and right are guilty to a significant degree of the same errors. These errors offer to continue to divide this nation on a terrain those who brought us here, on both sides of the aisle, thrive in.
140 characters isn’t enough to articulate a real point. To address the other side’s strong arguments. To cede some ground based upon moral priorities, to grant that the opposition argues from a real point.
We are here. We have Trump. What we do from here on out, whether we continue to polarize and fight a battle, not against each other. But as what we perceive to be the worst of the enemy and the best of ourselves.
Pretending that he’s not our president and we don’t have to deal with him is foolish. Pretending he is a benevolent leader with no possible issues is also foolish.
Treat him with skepticism. But don’t immediately discount every action. We really do need the best from this man.
Yet challenge him where he needs to be challenged. Fight fights that can be bipartisan. Pick off Republicans who cannot stand by his refutation of norms. Do not fight the fights you cannot win in the long run simply for the immediate popularity.
Institutions may not be aligned with you, especially if you are to the left of Clinton. But stand with them for the long run good. As a bulwark against norm-damaging Trump actions they have significant value. And with our institutions, if you do truly believe your argument will win, in the long run, on its merits and the popular vote, is almost certainly will.
With weakened institutions, such certainty in no way exists.
I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. -Lincoln