Thursday, November 10, 2016

US politics - Trump


Come on, this is a blog, it would be rude not to.

I'm not going to comment on the election results myself but I have pulled a bunch of interesting comments for your perusal:

Here's Scott Adam's (the guy behind the famous Dilbert comic):

You can expect him to adjust his tone and language going forward. You can expect foreign leaders to say they can work with him. You can expect him to focus on unifying an exhausted and nervous country. And you can expect him to succeed in doing so. (He’s persuasive.) Watch as Trump turns to healing. You’re going to be surprised how well he does it. But give it time.

... I would ask other Trump supporters to step up and be useful as well. If you helped elect Trump, you have a responsibility to calm the nerves of Clinton supporters who also have their country’s best interests in mind. Let’s all be worthy of our decisions.

...The social bullying coming from Clinton’s supporters guaranteed that lots of Trump supporters were in hiding. That created the potential for a surprise result, so long as the race was close.

...Trump’s powers of persuasion are better than I have ever seen from a living human. That made it likely that the election would be close. And people generally vote for their party’s candidate, so that too promised a close election.

...The business model of the news industry guarantees lots of “scandals” on a regular schedule. Small things get inflated to big things, and I assumed there would be plenty of them. Trump has the skill to overcome medium-sized scandals and bumps in the road. That’s all you need for an entertaining Second Act.

Here's Mary Beard:

"Trump’s policies are truly ghastly, but you have to face the fact that a very large number of people actually voted for him. What is more, resentment at “the elite” has morphed into a proud contempt for truth, expertise and knowledge – not unlike Michael Gove’s jibe at “experts” before the Brexit vote. And in the broader context of political rhetoric, the idea that he won’t be as bad as he claimed is more, rather than less, worrying. I thought that the conciliatory speech was the worst thing I had heard all evening. The idea that he could be thanking Clinton for her service to the country (“I mean that very sincerely”) and be speaking of “binding the wounds of division” – when only the day before he’d promised to impeach her and poured salt into the very wounds he was now promising to heal – beggars belief. It has nothing to do with being “gracious” (as the television pundits had it), and everything to do with words not meaning anything."

Here's Gillian Tett from the FT:

When the historians write the story of the extraordinary 2016 contest, they will find numerous economic reasons to explain Mr Trump’s apparent victory; his supporters were suffering economic pain, angry about globalisation and unhappy about cultural change.

However, aside from these tangible economic grievances, there is another way to frame the contest: this was a battle between a slick professional political elite versus the unprofessional or anti-professional class....

They feel that they are victims of events, constantly forced to improvise in a hostile, unfathomable world. So when Mr Trump acted in an inconsistent and chaotic manner, they — unlike the professional elites — do not shudder in shock. Instead, they simply view this as a sign that he is human, authentic and transparent; he, like them, makes mistakes with his words (and much else.) He is attractive to some voters because he is not stage managed; he speaks about the need for change.
Mr Trump has always instinctively understood the nature of this battle, hence his refusal to use data analysis to read the vote, teleprompter or other political tools of the trade. Indeed, much to his aides irritation, he was reluctant to even use a professional make-up artist before he went on stage — a stance that even sparked a full blown behind-the-scenes row just before the third TV debate, since his spray tan had started to fade and gave him an unhealthy looking pallor.

Mrs Clinton, by contrast, used every trick of modern political campaigning to perfection, including an army of stylists. But it made no difference — the improvised chaotic style and the call for change won over the voters. Call this, if you like, a vote for disruption, albeit not of the sort that Silicon Valley will like.

“The best thing about Trump is that he is not a professional politician,” one of his advisers said wearily shortly before the vote. “But the worst thing is that he is not a professional politician. Either way, you cannot change him.”

That, of course, is why markets and many business leaders feel so utterly terrified right now. Little wonder. After all, the problem with having a non-professional in office is not just that they lack experience; it is that it is also hard to predict how they might behave in the future. Nobody can assume that the regular rules of politics will apply; nor the rules that journalists, lobbyists, investors and business leaders have relied upon. We cannot even assume that the sketchy policy platforms that Mr Trump has already revealed will transpire. We are heading for a world where policymaking is likely to feel as improvised as the victory party in the Hilton Hotel.

While this type of disruption is terrifying for the establishment, the message from voters is clear: many of them want change at almost any cost. Hold on to your seats for a potentially wild ride. We have embarked on an era of political improvisation.

Here's  David Remnick in the New Yorker:

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

...The most hopeful way to look at this grievous event—and it’s a stretch—is that this election and the years to follow will be a test of the strength, or the fragility, of American institutions. It will be a test of our seriousness and resolve.

...decision to elevate a man who rides in a gold-plated airliner but who has staked his claim with the populist rhetoric of blood and soil. George Orwell, the most fearless of commentators, was right to point out that public opinion is no more innately wise than humans are innately kind. People can behave foolishly, recklessly, self-destructively in the aggregate just as they can individually. Sometimes all they require is a leader of cunning, a demagogue who reads the waves of resentment and rides them to a popular victory.

.... Trump was not elected on a platform of decency, fairness, moderation, compromise, and the rule of law; he was elected, in the main, on a platform of resentment.

Here's Aaron Sorkin in Vanity Fair (a letter to his daughters):

It’s hardly the first time my candidate didn’t win (in fact it’s the sixth time) but it is the first time that a thoroughly incompetent pig with dangerous ideas, a serious psychiatric disorder, no knowledge of the world and no curiosity to learn has. 

And it wasn’t just Donald Trump who won last night—it was his supporters too. The Klan won last night. White nationalists. Sexists, racists and buffoons. Angry young white men who think rap music and Cinco de Mayo are a threat to their way of life (or are the reason for their way of life) have been given cause to celebrate

For the next four years, the President of the United States, the same office held by Washington and Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, F.D.R., J.F.K. and Barack Obama, will be held by a man-boy who’ll spend his hours exacting Twitter vengeance against all who criticize him (and those numbers will be legion). We’ve embarrassed ourselves in front of our children and the world.

 ... personally, I don’t think this guy can make it a year without committing an impeachable crime. If he does manage to be a douche nozzle without breaking the law for four years, we’ll make it through those four years. And three years from now we’ll fight like hell for our candidate and we’ll win and they’ll lose and this time they’ll lose for good.

Here's Andrew Sullivan in the NYMag:

“To see what is in front of one’s nose is a constant struggle,” George Orwell famously observed. So what is it that we have just seen?

We are witnessing the power of a massive populist movement that has now upended the two most stable democracies in the world — and thrown both countries into a completely unknown future. In Britain, where the polls did not pick up the latent support for withdrawal from the European Union, a new prime minister is now navigating a new social contract with the indigenous middle and working classes forged by fear of immigration and globalization. In the U.S., the movement — built on anti-political politics, economic disruption, and anti-immigration fears — had something else, far more lethal, in its bag of tricks: a supremely talented demagogue who created an authoritarian cult with unapologetically neo-fascist rhetoric. Britain is reeling toward a slow economic slide. America has now jumped off a constitutional cliff. It will never be the same country again. Like Brexit, this changes the core nature of this country permanently.

This is now Trump’s America. He controls everything from here on forward. He has won this campaign in such a decisive fashion that he owes no one anything. He has destroyed the GOP and remade it in his image. He has humiliated the elites and the elite media. ...We will not have an administration so much as a court.

The only sliver of hope is that his promises cannot be kept. He cannot bring millions of jobs back if he triggers a trade war. He cannot build a massive new wall across the entire southern border and get Mexico to pay for it. He cannot deport millions of illegal immigrants, without massive new funding from Congress and major civil unrest. He cannot “destroy ISIS”; his very election will empower it in ways its leaders could not possibly have hoped for. He cannot both cut taxes on the rich, fund a massive new infrastructure program, boost military spending, protect entitlements, and not tip the U.S. into levels of debt even Paul Krugman might blanch at. At some point, a few timid souls in the GOP may mention the concepts of individual liberty or due process or small government or balanced budgets. At some point even his supporters may worry or balk, and his support may fade.
But hope fades in turn when you realize how absolute and total his support clearly is. His support is not like that of a democratic leader but of a cult leader fused with the idea of the nation. If he fails, as he will, he will blame others, as he always does. And his cult followers will take their cue from him and no one else.

A country designed to resist tyranny has now embraced it.

Here's The Economist:

...points to another reason to fear Mr Trump’s populist victory. For populism involves more than policies that are at once simple and stirring enough to shout at a rally (“Build That Wall”) or print on a bumper sticker. Populism is also the politics of Them and Us, involving appeals to tribal identities, and zero-sum contests over hard-pressed resources. Populism is hardly new. What makes Mr Trump’s win different is that he so explicitly sought to cast his opponents as illegitimate, unfit, contemptible, un-American or (a favourite word) “disgusting”—and was confident that he would find an echo among his voters.



He bet everything on a strategy of nostalgic nationalism, summed up in the slogan “Make America Great Again”, precisely because his hunch was that the country is home to an underestimated mass of voters who do not want to be part of any rainbow coalition, thank you

Mr Trump was open about his plans, telling The Economist in interviews that he planned to appeal to a “silent majority” of “hard-working, great people in the United States that have been disenfranchised”. 

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