Friday, February 03, 2017

A patch of ice, and all that

We used to just call 'em "outside agitators"

Yesterday on BBC World Service their correspondent went to Arizona to find a GOP official, ANY GOP official (office holder, party apparatchik, anybody) who would speak words of support for Donald Trump.


That's all he got.  Not only would people not speak to him (in the capitol, anywhere in public), a few on tape refused to so much as give their names, a response, he pointed out, usually encountered in countries where the wrong word in public can lead to death.

The first person he got to speak to him, an ordinary citizen, identified as a Democrat, and wanted to give Trump the benefit of the doubt.  One or two other people would go on record, but barely (first names only) to say something supporting about Trump; all were private citizens.

And then this, from Josh Marshall:

Republican Senator Jim Risch of Idaho has been receiving so many anti-Trump visitors at his Boise office (as well as calls) that he's closed the office to visitors and asked anyone who would like to visit the office to make an appointment in advance.

There seems to be a similar situation in Coeur d-Alene.

Josh has the link.

For all the hand-wringing you can find on the 'net, that Trump is "winning" this or "winning that," reality is not a TV show, and story lines are not resolved in 3 acts and an epilogue.  Two weeks in and Trump has generated so much anger it is threatening the people who should be supporting him in Congress.  It's no accident John McCain had to publicly reassure the Australian Ambassador of U.S. support.  The distinctive feature of government, be it a democracy or a dictatorship, is that is must provide stability and order; else, what's a government for?  People prefer order:  even in the chaos of New Orleans just after Katrina passed, people sought order, not anarchy.  Even in Syria, the pursuit is for order, not for a constant war of all against all.

Trump wants to sew chaos, the better to raise a new order from the ashes.  He is like the trolls I read in comments here and there, who want to destroy the nation in order to save it, because from the ashes will rise a nation committed to their ideals.  As if their ideals are the only ones possible out of chaos and utter destruction.  For that scenario, look to Syria; or Yemen.

The difference here is, Trump is not a military leader of an insurgency, and he is not a dictator.  He has voters who still express support for him, but they are a rump faction and the majority of the country disagrees.  Trump may successfully sew chaos for a time, but that is not a winning political strategy in the long term; and four years can be a very long term indeed.  And the more Trump insists this is about him, and about Muslims, the more rapidly his decline will proceed.  Anger over the "Muslim ban" has not abated, and skepticism about "illegal voters" has already forced Trump to walk away from that baseless claim.

Trump is not "winning," he's just sowing the most dragon's teeth he can.  The chaos that results should redound on him.

"Look, I'm headed home to Oregon," said Senator Ron Wyden. "I've had five town meetings when there was more snow in Oregon than any day since 1937. We had very big crowds with people really speaking out. Political change doesn't start in Washington, D.C. and trickle down. It starts from the bottom up, as people become aware of the facts.

"What's understood now, and it will increase, is they were told certain things in the campaign. Like with Obamacare. They were told there was going to be a repeal of Obamacare and a replacement. What we've really seen is repeal-and-run. They just wanted to repeal this program, get an ideological trophy, but they knew that just doing that would cause an enormous number of problems going forward. Looking for ideological trophies was not what the public was told during the campaign."

Steve Inskeep talked to people in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania who expect Trump to bring jobs back.  Those jobs are gone, never to return.  Automation ate the ones that the decline in coal consumption didn't, and neither course is going to be reversed.  Should we, as a nation, care more about those people?  Yes.  But the beginning of that care is to stop drinking the snake oil of "The Market" which will solve all our ills; or of a little man with a loud mouth who takes credit for the tides coming in and going out.

Trump is winning ideological trophies, small ones at best.  If the analysis is correct and the minority who elected Trump still expect him to produce jobs, those trophies won't be worth much in very short order.  It's up to the people to tell that to Congress, until it's a message they can't ignore.

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