Wednesday 25 January 2017


It's beyond doubt that Trump is a bully. His response to debate, or even to being questioned in any way, is to shout over or actively threaten people. Caught out on a lie, he just tells another. And like any bully if he gets contradicted, let alone challenged, he throws a tantrum like the over-entitled man baby he is. We've seen this enough.

Okay, leaders are often bullies. But Thatcher, for example, tried to cover up at least the worst excesses of her bawling-out. She went for a strong image, but also had at least an approximation of appeals to reason. Trump foregrounds his bullying, it's become part of the sales pitch. It proves he's a 'strong man'. His policies, such as they are, are less a balanced programme than a means of expressing this. He'll bring in protectionism, punishing those who don't comply. He'll make those Mexicans pay for the wall. And so on.

Because in uncertain and volatile times, where living standards are dropping and seemingly nothing can be relied on, having a strong man to cling to can seem attractive. In short what makes him loathsome to us (and let's be honest we don't just oppose him, we loathe the total dickhead) is precisely what makes him attractive to his hardcore supporters. (Note: That is not an analogous phrase to “anyone who voted Republican last time”.) In which case, pointing out how bad he is isn't much of a help.

Besides, accusations of fascism kind of miss the point. Trump is like Putin in Russia or Erdogan in Turkey. (The Alt Right clique, the ones who chant “hail Trump”, actively compare him to Putin.) In all three cases, the leader simply imposes their will. Their word is effectively law, even where the law actually says something else. But in all three cases, they do so in nominal democracies. And that's important. Stir in some cognitive dissonance, and people can believe they live under a democratic system, where they are ultimately in charge, where we have checks and balances, and yet when the leader rides roughshod over those checks and balances that just proves his exceptional status, what a man he is. It's a classic case of wanting it both ways.

(The British version is bizarre. It hasn't coalesced around a person, but around Brexit. TheTory councillor who petitioned for it to be made an act of treason to even question Brexit was an outlier for idiocy. But the notion that it cannot be questioned, that you are obliged to just shut up, is widespread.)

And what do you do wth bullies? You stand up to them, of course. But how?

Now of course, the Republicans don't like the foul-mouthed orange faker either. He stole the nomination just as he stole the election. In their time-honoured tradition they 'misunderestimated' him, while busily backing their own dog in the fight, until it was too late. Now they'll be united under their leader, and they'll be united against him. Except they'll now be united behind MikePence, over whom the debate is whether he's as right-wing as Trump or worse. Besides which, they'd then be united while controlling Congress and Senate. We shouldn't unite with them, even if we could stomach it. We have to hope they manage to make his ride rocky, without unseating him.

We could of course back Clinton, who as anyone knows got a majority of nearly three million. (Which is enough to win a 'vote' as they are normally conceived of.) Except that ignores how we got into this situation in the first place. The Democrat vote went down, not the Republican up. There were the usual tricks of voter suppression in Democrat-leaning black areas, in some cases with hard-won Civil Rights legislation reversed.

But this combined with what commenters disparagingly call ‘voter apathy’. If America’s first black president, a candidate with break-with-tradition literally written on his face, made no difference for regular folks then what price one where stick-with-tradition was her main sales pitch? People weren’t apathetic, they were disillusioned. And finding your illusions were illusory will do that to you. We don’t know, and we probably never will, what the blend of those is. But they had the same effect.

This is pretty much where we came in. Knock out Trump and Trump alone, and people will just migrate to the next 'strong man' and his empty promises. We need to be tough on Trump and tough on the causes of Trump.

We should remember that to gain power he has made promises he can't keep, and in many cases wouldn't if he could. The rust belt workers who turned to him essentially want the Eighties back, with regular unionised jobs on good pay and with regular overtime. If Trump could offer that, he'd be one of the people he was making poorer. But that in itself can't be relied on, because they could as easily turn to the next snake oil salesman. Trump neats to be beaten, not left to fail.

You defeat an enemy by going for their weakness. And with Trump his most obvious weakness is his bloated ego. He should be ridiculed, not monsterised. But his bigger and more important weakness is his appearance of strength. Puncture that and you deflate the whole bloated bravado act, he is the little man behind the curtain. He is only President as long as people do what he tells them. Otherwise he is President in name only. Everything he does should be opposed, not via another celebrity endorsement, but directly. And Trump is weak. Bullies always are.

(A quickly thrown up piece, from someone living in England who's never even been to the States. The reader can take up if they find any of it useful, or ignore the whole thing if they prefer.)


  1. This is pretty much where we came in. Knock out Trump and Trump alone, and people will just migrate to the next 'strong man' and his empty promises. We need to be tough on Trump and tough on the causes of Trump.

    This, I think, is where you and I disagree. I think Trump is one of a kind -- a literal psychopath, a million miles from people who we merely disagree violently with about policy. From my perspective, if the Republicans impeached Trump and installed Pence as his replacement, that would be a huge improvement. Not because Pence's policies are any better -- they may even be worse in some cases -- but because he is, when all's said, a rational human being with a specific perspective on reality. And Trump simply is not.

    Put an adult in charge. That is step one. Return from being a dicktatorship to a democracy. After that, we can worry about the details.

  2. Trump's at the very least a megalomaniac and quite possibly a psychopath. But I don't think that makes him "one of a kind". The difference between him and Pence or Cruz, the difference between him and Clinton for that matter, is real, but it's more a difference of degree mixed in with presentation. Trump's not an aberration, but a continuation of a curve. Having linked to one part of Jack Graham's 'Faeces on Trump' round your place, here's another. I even, unusually for me, agree with the Lenin quote.

    Trump could, of course, be overstepping it. In fact we'd better hope that he is.

  3. I don't think so. Dislike the Pences, Cruzes and Clintons all you like -- I won't necessarily argue with you -- whatever else you say, you have to admit that they are all basically grown-ups who understand what truth is and at least make the effort to portray themselves as truthful, with all the compromises and connections to reality that entails. Trump? Nope.

  4. Clinton boasted, in private speeches to her Wall Street clients, that she might need to use the rhetoric of regulation and restraint to gain power, but that they didn't need to worry as she didn't mean a word of it.

    Trump doesn't even care if his lies look convincing. They're really just tribal rallying calls, entirely uninterested in the question of truth. But, as I say, that's just an upping of the ante.

    Incidentally, did post a new comment on your place. Did it not come through?

  5. That is awful about Clinton. Do you have a reliable reference?

    Thanks for your comment on TRP. I have no idea why, but for some reason it got misclassified as spam. I have hoiked it out of the spam-bucket and published it. Sorry for the delay -- drop me an email if that ever happens again.


    And remember Goldman Sachs, before the crash, were as paid consultants advising people to take out investments as AAA safe, then betting themselves those investments would crash. When challenged they said their advice was "just opinions". Which is pretty Trumpish in itself.

    Misclassified as spam, eh? I think we can see the hand of Russian intelligence in this.

  7. "Mrs. Clinton said that the political climate had made it overly difficult for wealthy people to serve in government."

    Ha! An assertion that has not aged well.

  8. Yeah, the super-rich have suffered a lot lately.

  9. "We need to be tough on Trump and tough on the causes of Trump."

    I wish I had said that.

  10. I believe the internationally agreed response to that comment is "you will"!