Tobold's Blog
Friday, February 24, 2017
 
Keeping score

A few months ago I watched the HBO series Veep, all of the first 3 seasons I bought together in a box. The series is still going strong, with a 6th season announced for this year. I am wondering how it will be doing this year: The underlying running joke of Veep is the lack of gravitas of Selina Meyer, and at least in the seasons I saw she had actually *more* gravitas than the current president of the United States.

However, if I look at the daily news from America and all the shouting and fighting and excitation going on, I can't help but think that the noise, which is mostly unfavorable to Trump, makes us overlook the underlying shifts in reality. The moment you manage to ignore the noise and the daily "scandals" and protests, you get the impression that where it really counts, Trump is winning.

In part I actually think that Trump is a lot less stupid than people think, at least regarding political strategy, and that some of his actions are designed to lead his opponents into traps. The "transgender use of bathrooms" decision doesn't actually do anything, but it provokes a foreseeable response from liberals about identity politics, which is not a winning strategy for them. The party that wins elections is the party of which the "99%" believe that it is the party that represents their interests against the elite. It is quite an achievement for an administration full of billionaires to make people believe that it is the opposition who represent the elite.

If you want to keep score and see who is actually winning, you need to look at where the USA is really changing: The most conservative Supreme Court in decades. A proposed change to US tax laws which would deal a severe blow to global supply chains and globalisation. An isolationist foreign policy based on nuclear deterrence. Severe restrictions to the free movement of people. There is a lot of stuff going on which could very well mean that the USA will be a very different place in 4 years than it was only one year ago.

One thing that always comes up in political comedies like Veep is how politicians are so worried about who might possibly be offended by anything they say or do that they end up being complete non-entities which say only hollow phrases and never take any decisive decisions. Nobody would accuse Trump of being afraid of offending somebody. And the people who thought that the outrageous things he said during his election campaign would be quickly forgotten once he got elected, now find it is actually his agenda.

A US president who is actually willing to change America as much as possible in 4 years is a lot more dangerous than one who is mostly concerned about his re-election. Even if a "Wall to Mexico" or a "Muslim travel ban" remain rather impractical concepts, getting whatever is actually in the power of the president done in those directions will still have a huge impact on the world. And as long as the opposition concentrates on Trump's personality, moral outrage, and identity politics instead of explaining why the future we are being promised is actually not so bright, Trump remains the most dangerous man on earth.

Comments:
Honestly...well said.
 
Nice analysis. Thanks.

 
I think you post is spot on. All I'll add is this.

Trump has always been an expert in one area, getting attention. He won the presidency by getting the most attention. He is very intelligent.

One thing that swayed a lot of people to vote for Obama twice was his charisma. I wouldn't call what Trump has, charisma, but he certainly knows exactly who he is appealing to and does what he has to in order to get them behind him.

I would not at all be surprised if he got re-elected in 4 years if Democrats fail to put up a charismatic candidate. We've already seen that experience and knowledge count for nothing in a general election.
 
Perhaps people should at least save up their outrage for when he does something especially outrageous. Reversing some of Obama's EOs, imposing immigration laws similar to other countries (or more accurately, enforcing laws that the previous administration refused to enforce), moving a bit away from global free trade treaties...

I doubt if there is a specific plan to keep the US Left occupied impotently spitting venom at the Presidential tweet of the day, but if things fall out that way, they will certainly be happy to make the most of it.


 
[I meant, of course, that the things I listed are not all that outrageous.]
 
My example of artistic political-ridicule misfires was in 1973's Sleeper. A 200 year in the future Allen is looking at things of past and reads a headline about "President Reagan", a jab at a B-List Actor who was then governor of California - but who eight years later won two Presidential landslides.
 
I wanted to write a comment. I write a whole blogpost for Monday instead.
 
Here it is: http://greedygoblin.blogspot.hu/2017/02/trumpian-economic-justice.html
 
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