Tuesday, November 08, 2016

The best of anti-Trump

Over the last week, before the Clinton polling losses appeared to stabilise, there was a lot of passionate, if not panicky, anti-Trump writing to be found.  Here are three pieces I liked:

*  Andrew Sullivan (not my favourite writer, generally speaking) did do a good job at calling Trump out as an awful and dangerous proto-fascist, as I think more in the media should be prepared to say.  Have a read of this:
This is what we now know. Donald Trump is the first candidate for president who seems to have little understanding of or reverence for constitutional democracy and presents himself as a future strongman. This begins with his character — if that word could possibly be ascribed to his disturbed, unstable, and uncontrollable psyche. He has revealed himself incapable of treating other people as anything but instruments to his will. He seems to have no close friends, because he can tolerate no equals. He never appears to laugh, because that would cede a recognition to another’s fleeting power over him. He treats his wives and his children as mere extensions of his power, and those who have resisted the patriarch have been exiled, humiliated, or bought off.

His relationship to men — from his school days to the primary campaign — is rooted entirely in dominance and mastery, through bullying, intimidation, and, if necessary, humiliation. His relationship to women is entirely a function of his relationship to men: Women are solely a means to demonstrate his superiority in the alpha-male struggle. Women are to be pursued, captured, used, assaulted, or merely displayed to other men as an indication of his superiority. His response to any difficult relationship is to end it, usually by firing or humiliating or ruining someone. His core, motivating idea is the punishment or mockery of the weak and reverence for the strong. He cannot apologize or accept responsibility for failure. He has long treated the truth as entirely instrumental to his momentary personal interests. Setbacks of any kind can only be assuaged by vindictive, manic revenge.

He has no concept of a non-zero-sum engagement, in which a deal can be beneficial for both sides. A win-win scenario is intolerable to him, because mastery of others is the only moment when he is psychically at peace. (This is one reason why he cannot understand the entire idea of free trade or, indeed, NATO, or the separation of powers.) In any conflict, he cannot ever back down; he must continue to up the ante until the danger to everyone around him is so great as to demand their surrender. From his feckless business deals and billion-dollar debts to his utter indifference to the damage he has done to those institutions unfortunate enough to engage him, he has shown no concern for the interests of other human beings. Just ask the countless people he has casually fired, or the political party he has effectively destroyed. He has violated and eroded the core norms that make liberal democracy possible — because such norms were designed precisely to guard against the kind of tyrannical impulses and pathological narcissism he personifies.
Wow, hey?   Vicious but, I think, very accurate.

*  Adam Gopnik:  always a great writer, follows a very similar path:
The truth is that Trump’s “positions” on specific issues are more or less a matter of chance and whim and impulse (Of course women should be punished for having abortions! Ten minutes later: no, they shouldn’t) while his actual ideology, the song he sings every day, the one those listeners and followers gleefully vibrate to, is one anthem, and it is the sound of the authoritarian and anti-democratic impulses Americans have rejected since the founding of this country. Call them what you will—populist authoritarianism or extreme-right-wing ethno-nationalism—the active agents within a Trump speech and energizing a Trump rally are always the same: the worship of power in its most brutal and authoritarian forms (thus his admiration for Vladimir Putin and for the Chinese Communists who assaulted the protesters at Tiananmen Square); the reduction of all relations to dominance contests; the contempt for rational argument; the perpetual unashamed storm of lies; the appeal to hysterically exaggerated fears of outsiders; and, above all, the relentless sense of ethnic grievance that can be remedied only by acts of annihilating revenge. His is the ideology not of democratic patriotism but of a narrow nationalism alone—the glorification of the nation, and the exaggeration of its humiliations, with violence promised to its enemies, at home and abroad; and a promise of vengeance for those who feel themselves disempowered by history. He will “level the playing field” with the terrorist spectre of ISIS by forcing soldiers to commit war crimes; he will not merely kill our enemies but annihilate their families. His platform is resentment and his program is revenge, and that is an ideology with many faces and one name. This is fascism with an American face.
*   And, at a more technical level, the detailed explanation by Matthew Yglesais of the Clinton email issue, the low level security risk of which the media has never really tried to properly explain, is really good.  It starts:
Because Clinton herself apologized for it and because it does not appear to be in any way important, Clinton allies, surrogates, and co-partisans have largely not familiarized themselves with the details of the matter, instead saying vaguely that it was an error of judgment and she apologized and America has bigger fish to fry.
This has had the effect of further inscribing and reinscribing the notion that Clinton did something wrong, meaning that every bit of micro-news that puts the scandal back on cable amounts to reminding people of something bad that Clinton did. In total, network newscasts have, remarkably, dedicated more airtime to coverage of Clinton’s emails than to all policy issues combined.
This is unfortunate because emailgate, like so many Clinton pseudo-scandals before it, is bullshit. The real scandal here is the way a story that was at best of modest significance came to dominate the US presidential election — overwhelming stories of much more importance, giving the American people a completely skewed impression of one of the two nominees, and creating space for the FBI to intervene in the election in favor of its apparently preferred candidate in a dangerous way.

1 comment:

not trampis said...


I have yet to read anywhere why the e-mail thingy is a scandal. After all she was advised by Colin Powell to have a private email account like he did.
Like Powell no problems were ever found. what is the big deal?

I still say whilst she is a she is a policy wonk she does not have the political smarts to be successful. Indeed I think the Republicans are so stupid they will bring on an impeachment