Continued from previous posts.
Inclusiveness. I tend to judge policies and politicians less in terms of how liberal or conservative they are, and more on how inclusive and life-centered they are. There are policies and politicians of any flavor that take a more inclusive and life-centered approach. They sincerely wish society as a whole, and all segments within it, to flourish. And if they have a larger perspective, they also include nature and future generations. (Also because that’s enlightened self-interest. It’s to our benefit here and now to do so.)
That’s why it’s so hard for me to understand why people would support Trump. He is someone who so obviously is in it for himself and to increase profit for people like himself, at the expense of everyone else – including the less wealthy, nature, and future generations.
Of course, people may be mislead, and they may have wanted to vote for him out of reactiveness and pain. And still, from the beginning, it was so clear that he is in it for himself and that a vote for him was a vote for policies not in their own interest. At least not in the short term. Who knows what will come out of it in the longer term. His term may be such a blatant disaster that enough people come to their senses and support more sensible solutions.
Solution focus. I have always favored a partner-oriented and solution focused approach to our serious problems. It’s the only approach that makes sense to me. It’s what exciting and energizing, and what creates a life we want to live – for ourselves and society as a whole.
Of course, we need to focus on the problems in order to understand them and find a strategy to create what we want. But if we focus only or mainly on the problems, it tends to be very discouraging and lead to burn-out.
Focus on the issues, not the personality. I have written about this before. With Trump especially, it’s important to focus on the issues and not his personality. It’s tempting to be distracted by his outrageous personality, but that is just that – a distraction. It’s what he wants, and it will only galvanize his supporters. Focusing on the issues is a better and more effective strategy.
Elected a child. A quarter of the US population elected a child for president. I can’t help thinking that it reflects on their level of emotional maturity. And that, in turn, reflects on a society that is not taking sufficient care of its own. (Erosion of the middle class, lack of social safety nets, poverty, lack of good education, tax money used to support a bloated military rather than health care and education.)
Not as stupid as he seems. Trump is obviously not quite as stupid as he seems. He has found a strategy that gets him what he wants, even if it means being a narcissist. And it’s probably really the other way around. One example is what I have mentioned here before: He says whatever he thinks will get him what he wants. It doesn’t need to be tied to reality, or to what he actually intends to do, and it often isn’t. Apparently, some people fall for it. Why is beyond me.
Implode? It’s possible that Trump will implode unless he is protected by those around him or the Republican congress. How it will happen is anyone’s guess, but it may have to do with conflict of interest, behavior that’s dangerous enough that others will have to step in to stop him, or a congress that gets tired of his unpredictability.
A short term? If he ends up having a short term, it will largely be a blessing for the Republicans. On the plus side for them is that they’ll get another president who is more predictable. Another plus is that by playing the ordinary political game they will be able to better disguise their actions. A drawback may be that they won’t have Trump and his personality to distract from the real issues.
Wall on the border to Mexico? When I first heard of Trumps’ wall on the border to Mexico, I thought it was a joke or at least meant metaphorically. I still can’t believe he means it literally, but he does. It seems like something a child would think of. It’s not even remotely feasible, it won’t help at all, and the border is already well guarded. If he gets it started, it will be a money sink. The main outcome will be to funnel tax money to private companies, which may be the intention behind it in the first place. (Along with appealing to racism and bigotry.)
Robert Reich. I find Robert Reich’s comments interesting and helpful. Here is a succinct summary from him:
Trump has no ideology, no principles, no values – other than his domination and others’ submission. That’s why he despises and denigrates independent centers of power that disagree with him – the press, the intelligence agencies, government scientists, the Fed. And why he’s drawn to tyrants abroad.
Two weeks from today Trump will be sworn is as President of the United States. Yet does not understand or respect democratic institutions. He does not regard himself as a public servant or the presidency as a public trust. This will be his undoing. Before his four-year term is over, either he will be impeached or our democracy and civil liberties will be undermined.
The reason. I think there is a pretty clear reason why Trump was elected: The slow erosion of the US middle class. It gained momentum under Reagan. And the neoliberal ideology – supported by both Republicans and Democrats – has continued the steady erosion.
When Republicans and Democrats adopted a “too big to fail” attitude during the last financial crisis, it only cemented many people’s distrust of both parties. They were seen – and often rightly so – as on the side of the wealthy and not ordinary people.
Of course, Trump is not the solution. He’ll just remove more social safety nets and more of what creates a livable society. The best we can hope for is that he’ll be a wake-up call which eventually leads to momentum for the real solutions (in my mind, represented by Bernie Sanders).
Trauma. I have written about this before. We can’t and shouldn’t diagnose anyone at a distance, but what I can say is that Trump exhibits classic trauma symptoms. When he is reactive, impulsive, blaming, bigoted and so on, he looks like someone who reacts to pain.
It may well be that some among those who support him do the same. Emotional pain can make people do strange things, and Trump’s behavior is definitely out of the ordinary.
Another side of this is that hurt people hurt people. And that too fits. If Trump is hurt, and he acts on that hurt, he’ll hurt others. He is soon in a position to hurt a great deal of people.
Inclusiveness II. I realize this has to do with conditioning, including genetics, and I know that this diversity is good for a society. But it’s still hard for me personally to understand why some people don’t want a more inclusive society and good social safety nets. Research shows that inclusive societies with good safety nets do better in just about every way. It’s just far better to be a human being in such a society. And we never know when we or someone close to us will need safety nets. In addition, it feels good to know that my tax money goes to create a society where everyone is taken care of. (I am speaking about Norway and most of the industrialized world here. I know it’s a bit different in the US, a country where a large portion of the taxes goes to a bloated military and not enough to education, health care, and basic human neccesities.)
Postmodern caricature. Trump is, in many ways, an extreme caricature of the postmodern. Postmodernism acknowledge the values of and in multiple perspectives, and that none has a final or absolute truth. A mature postmodernism also acknowledged the value in consensus reality and science. Trump represents an immature use of certain postmodern insights. And his motivation seems to be to confuse the conversation and kick up enough dust so he can get it his way.
Con-man smarts. Is Trump intelligent? It’s hard to say, and it depends on what we mean by intelligent. There are many forms of intelligence. In the broadest sense, there are as many forms of intelligence as there are areas of human engagement and activity.
He certainly has the smarts of a con-man. He is brilliant in that area whether it’s accidental or learned more intentionally.
One of his main weaknesses is his apparent inability to take criticism. We can’t learn or grow very well without that receptivity. (And there too, it’s hard to say what’s going on for him. He may lash back in public and take it in more in private, I don’t know.)
Another is his apparent recklessness, which – as president – can be dangerous for a great number of people.
And yet another is his apparently overconfidence. He sees himself as very knowledgeable and smart, while he really isn’t. (Apart from his con-man smarts.) His business records tells its own tale.
Although this is typically not categorized as intelligence, I would say that his lack of inclusiveness is another weakness. It’s something that will come back to bite him. His policies are aimed at benefiting people like himself, the already very rich, at the expense of everyone else. And his policies are aimed at short term profits rather than longer term sustainability and thriving. Neither of those are sustainable approaches, although they may benefit him and his friends financially in the short term. And that may be enough for him, according to his understanding of life.
Corruption. Trump is already, most likely, the most corrupt president the US has seen. (Business involvement mixed with Presidential duties, hiring family members etc.) The question is, will the Republican congress take measures to limit this corruption through enforcing laws or impeachment? If he is useful for them, they probably won’t. If he gets too troublesome and unpredictable, they may.
Information bubbles. I have written about information bubbles here before. It explains some of why the US could elect Trump in the first place. (Although he did get the votes of only a quarter of the population, and a minority of the cast votes). It also explains why liberals and conservatives seem to live in different worlds and be unable to agree on even the most basic facts.
Some Trump supporters would not support him if they knew more fully what he is up to and the consequences of what he intends to do. They either don’t get much information, or they get it from Trump and Trump allied sources.
And some would probably still support him even if they have that information. It may be out of party loyalty, because they agree on one or a few issues and decide to live with the rest, out of spite, because they think he serves their business interests, or something else.
January 18, 2017
Trump shot. A well-known Norwegian psychic and healer – Joralf Gjerstad – says in an interview that Trump will be shot. If he is shot and killed, that would be the worst possible ending to his presidency. It could easily make him a martyr, and it can be an excuse for others to push through even more awful policies. (As Bush Jr. did following 911.) Fortunately, psychics, even reputable psychics, are sometimes not correct.
My intuitive sense, combined with what I know about him, is that he’s likely to not last four years. My guess is that he will be out of office within one or two years. Whether he’ll leave on his own accord, or be impeached, or be assassinated, is anyone’s guess.
And it is, of course, possible he will last four years. Maybe I refuse to completely accept it since it seems too unimaginable to have such a president for such a period of time.
Embolden the bigots. I have written about this before as well. One of the dangers of Trump is that he emboldens the bigots. There is already a steady stream of new stories of people committing bigoted acts with the rationale that “this is a new America”.
What created Trump? Who or what created Trump?
Republicans with their overly partisan scorched earth tactics. They created new norms where obstructionism and unfair play was fair game. They have created a new and deeply undemocratic way of doing politics.
Fox News and similar information sources where facts and honesty take the back seat to partisan politics.
The Democrats including Hillary Clinton. They supported neo-liberal policies benefiting the already wealthy at the cost of ordinary people. More obviously to most people – instead of jailing the bankers, they rewarded them. And instead of supporting Bernie Sanders who speaks to these very valid concerns, they supported Hillary Clinton who is one of the most high-profile advocates of these neo-liberal policies. No wonder there was a backlash. It had to come in one form or another. And it took one of the most devastating form it could.
Large scale war? I don’t like to overdramatize, but it has to be said: Trump is the type of leader who can cause a large scale war, even a world war. When people voted for him, they showed either a serious lack of knowledge about history or a serious lack of concern about what happens beyond the brief satisfaction of casting the vote.
Norwegian historian. Frank Aarebrot, a beloved Norwegian historian, was recently interviewed. He said a couple of obvious things that bear repeating.
– Eg skulle ynskje at vanlege folk tok til vettet. Som ein bergensk historikar sa ein gong: «I det augneblinken du er meir oppteken av å forakte dei svake enn å kritisere dei mektige, er du i ferd med å undergrave deg sjølv»
I wish people would come to their senses. As an historian from Bergen once said: “As soon as you are more concerned with blaming the weak than criticizing the powerful, you undermine yourself.”
“– Akkurat no er eg veldig frustrert. Eg opplever at det som alle var einige om, at vi ikkje ville ha 2. verdskrig på ny, igjen kan skje. Lukka grenser og haldningar om at «vårt folk er betre enn alle andre» er farleg. Då er det ikkje lenger grunnlag for fred, seier Aarebrot.”
Right now, I am very frustrated. I am seeing that what we all agreed on, that we wouldn’t have another world war, can happen. Closed borders and the attitude that our people is better than all others is dangerous. Then there is no longer the foundations for peace.
Liberals with lack of perspective. I am no big fan of Hillary Clinton, and I am well aware of some shortcomings of Obama. And yet, some at the far left take a reckless attitude and go way too far in equating Clinton with Trump and condemning Obama.
Trump’s explicit aim is to tear down social policies and protections built up over decades, and his recklessness has the potential to start a global war. Clinton may be in the pocket of big money, but she would at least provide stability. There is no comparison. (I would have much preferred to have had Bernie Sanders as the Democratic candidate.)
Obama, for the most part, did what he could while being constrained by a Republican congress. He was a president with dignity and intelligence, and he left the country better than what it was when he entered the presidency. There are things to criticize, but overall he did very well.
January 20, 2017
Interview with the Trump biographers. Politico has conducted a series of interviews with the Trump biographers. The most recent is called ‘He Has This Deep Fear That He Is Not a Legitimate President’. It offers some good insights into his psyche.
Anger and compassion. As so many these days, I experience a range of emotions regarding the Trump presidency.
Anger that he was put in such as position – by the voters, the Republican party, the reporters giving him all the free publicity he wanted, and to some extent the Democratic party who supported a candidate (Hillary Clinton) out of tune with the zeitgeist.
Anger also takes the form of they’ll get exactly what they asked for when Trump and the Republicans remove the few safety nets people have, and especially the poorer and less educated whites who voted for him. If that’s not what they wanted, they shouldn’t have voted for him. All the information was and is out there. There are no surprises.
There is also compassion for Trump and his family. His behavior appears to be classic trauma behavior (a reaction to emotional pain). I assume there is a lot of suffering there. And reactiveness and trauma behavior may be behind some of his support as well.
January 21, 2017
Policies and democracy. Trump worries me and many others, and our main concerns are in two areas:
Policy content. He – supported by his cabinet and the Republican congress – are likely to implement policies that erode social safety nets, transfer what’s now publicly and collectively owned to private corporations, and tends to benefit people like them (billionaires) at the cost of regular people.
Democracy. Trump’s m.o. is to (a) deny the truth of something easily verifiable, and (b) turning it back on the other (blame, name calling). This erodes the democratic process, norms, and unwritten rules built up over decades and centuries. His authoritarian and bullying tactics belong to the world of old-fashioned kings and dictators, not a democracy.
What we can do. So what can we do? We need to be what we want to see in the world:
Emphasize facts and reality.
Act with integrity and uphold democratic norms and processes. Support order instead of his chaos.
Support forward-looking policies and what we want to see in our society. Remember and develop our visions of the society we want to have.
Remember that a majority of people in the US support liberal policies – when these are presented outside of party politics. Remember that Trump got only a quarter of the votes, and less than half of the votes cast.
Focus on the issues and not his personality. Hold the media to a high standard of accountable reporting. Act with sanity and maturity.
And…. Not allowing him to run the show. Not buy into his way of framing issues.
Norwegian media. I have noticed that the Norwegian media has a tendency to “normalize” Trump in their own way. They sometimes create a context to what he has said or done that would make sense in Norwegian politics, makes him seem more normal and sane, and is not accurate. He is so far outside of what most Norwegians have experienced that they don’t know how to report on him.