I am late posting this provocative and wide-ranging comment from repeat-Comment of the Day author Chris Marschner. Chris attempts to explain, and even defend, the unwillingness of Donald Trump supporters to find literally any misconduct or verbal outrage sufficient reason to reject him. On the way, he touches on affirmative action, SNAP, voter ID laws, the transgender bathroom controversy, and more.
I’ll have some substantial comments at the end. for for now, here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, MORE Gender Issues Confusion Monday, PART 3:The New York Times’ Hit Piece On Donald Trump And Women:
[Commenter Humble Talent] stated, “Pundits don’t understand why saying dumb things about women or minorities doesn’t skewer him. I do: His voters don’t care. His voters don’t care where people pee, they don’t care how many abortions the lady down the street gets, they don’t care about racism, sexism or whatever-phobias. They care about taking care of their families. They care about jobs. This is the demographic Bernie and Trump tapped into. People not like us. Uneducated people. People living day to day. Bills to pay and mouths to feed, when nothing in the world is free.”
First let me say that I find Trump’s rhetoric distasteful and I did not vote for him in the Maryland primary.
Labeling all Trump supporters as “uneducated and unlike us” may be too simplistic. Actually many do care where people pee or how many abortions take place. You might want to consider that it is just a matter of priorities when faced with the possibility that a progressive candidate like Hillary Clinton might get elected leading to further stagnation of their upward mobility while forcing them to succumb to even more government intrusion into their lives.
Perhaps there is also a group of educated voting taxpayers who are tired of being labeled as social misanthropes when engaging in reasonable debate over a variety of issues. Many well educated people who earn more than the median income but less than that which is necessary to be absolutely financially independent understand the economic repercussions of challenging some progressive ideas that are at odds with their own reasoned thinking. How exactly does a conservative faculty member debate a topic when he/she runs the risk of being labeled a racist, Uncle Tom, misogynist or other type of person in what could be called the “Hater” segment of society for not towing the employer’s or the group’s normative thinking. How many business owners publically regurgitate the progressive ideology or opt for a low profile to avoid the onslaught of protesters that can threaten that which they may have spent a lifetime working long hours to build
I could also argue that many private corporate cultures are an outgrowth of weighing the economic pros and cons of taking an ideological stand and often opt for the culture that prevents further costly governmental intrusion into their operating policies. Only a few have challenged the government’s desire to dictate corporate culture and policy.
If we examine some of the well publicized political issues that have emerged over the last eight years progressives have not proffered any solutions that might actually solve the real or perceived issue. Instead, they resort to calling any opposition to their government prescribed spending/control solution as proof of systemic and rampant discrimination against some protected group.
Take for example the issues of affirmative action, voter ID, or the massive increase in food stamp participation. Those who debate the merits of ending affirmative action, requiring photo ID for voting or questioning the wisdom of expanding the use of, and allowing food stamps to be used for items full of empty calories are immediately labeled as racists who are trying to deny a protected group some inherent right.
Why should we not discuss whether or not certain minorities should receive special consideration in hiring? Latinos or Hispanics, for example cannot claim the same historical economic suppression that African Americans faced. The Chinese and the Irish may have a better claim on historical economic discrimination than Latinos. How exactly does past economic oppression of African Americans justify special protected class status among second and third generation Sub- Saharan Africans who emigrated to the U.S.? Should African Americans and other members of protected classes who have done very well for themselves and their families also get special protected status over some poor non-protected class kid that is struggling for upward mobility? Technically, President Obama and his family have unnecessary protection under this indiscriminate protected class policy.
Why do progressive activists spend valuable time and resources insisting that requiring photo ID to vote is to promote voter suppression rather than using the same resources to help the relative few that have difficulty obtaining such documentation get the required documents? I would bet a week’s wage that most conservatives would contribute funds for such efforts.
As for the growth of SNAP, the majority of the growth has been among poor whites. So labeling opposition to government pushing expanding food stamps as evidence of racial animus is a deflection of the opposing view that too much government help creates dependency. In one example:
“The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has an award called the Hunger Champions Awards. One of the winners of 2011’s award was the Social Services department in Ashe County, North Carolina. Their accomplishment: an outreach worker found a new way to convince people to take government handouts, even though those people had decided earlier that they wouldn’t request the handouts:Hearing from the outreach worker that benefits could be used to purchase seeds and plants for their gardens turned out to be a very important strategy in counteracting what they described as “mountain pride[.]”
The cited article goes on to show how once self-reliant communities that eschewed government handouts is now dependent on them.
It is equally possible that Trump’s ascendancy simply represents a backlash against the hyperbolic growth of progressive power that routinely uses ad hominem attacks to bolster their arguments. In short, many may think turnabout is fair play, or at least turning a blind eye toward the behavior of a candidate who is willing and economically able to weather the slings and arrows of the very far left is better than the alternative. Perhaps to them, he is their champion.
So when we think Trump is a vulgar man and devoid of policy prescriptions we must ask ourselves is what he says any more vulgar than the progressive’s use of demonizing rhetoric against those who are diametrically opposed to increasing governmental coercion of thought and behavior. Furthermore, with respect to articulated policy positions I know of no candidates whose plans yielded the desired results, or anywhere close for that matter. Moreover, asking a candidate to take a uniform position on every issue requires them to establish a one size fits all policy prescription. Policies are not goals. Our goal should be to make America strong economically and socially. How we achieve that goal is debatable. If we want thoughtful candidates then we have to allow them the opportunity to change direction when the desired outcomes are not materializing even if it means that they have to abandon a policy position without calling them a hypocrite.
As for transgendered bathrooms: this affects so few and is taking too much attention away from issues that affect the majority of the population. Solution: Just take all the signs off the doors and let the public use whichever one they want. Better yet just change the building codes to require only one bathroom with an appropriate number of stalls and urinals to meet the expected demand load for the building. How the hell would I know if a man with female genitalia is in the next stall. If women want, or do not care if, women with male genitalia are in their bathroom why should I care? Why should they? Gay men use the men’s room and lesbian women use the ladies room and I have not heard of a rise in sexual assaults as a result. The likelihood of a sexual predator in the bathroom is equally likely in either – unless you have a sub-conscious belief that all hetero-sexual males cannot control themselves sexually in such places. Who exactly are we trying to protect? However, if we go this route we should not delineate anything by anatomy anywhere; otherwise it would be a double standard.
If I had to choose between Trumpsters. and the Occupier’s behaviors to stimulate dialogue I would prefer the Trumpsters. Despite Trump’s rhetoric, one must admit the actual violence that has occurred during the campaigns has been primarily initiated by the left. Not once have I seen Trump, Cruz, Rubio or other supporters attempting to shut down a Hillary or Bernie rally nor have any of Trump’s supporters damaged private and public property as they strive to obtain political power.
Chris’s analysis joins that of many pundits, many of them defenders and admirers (like me) of the concept of American representative democracy, who are trying to rationalize, defend, or otherwise bestow virtue or justification on the conduct of Trump supporters. I respect the effort, but it’s futile, and ultimately undeserved. All theories of government deal with the problem of people who are too stupid, selfish or life-incompetent to be trusted with the responsibility of self-government. Socialists, communists and other statists believe the solution is for “the government” to make all the important decisions for them, and to take care of them, insulating them from their own bad choices and ongoing ignorance. Autocrats think it is best to have a single, wise, responsible ruler who serves for life or until he or she decided to step down, and eliminate the static of competing ideas and opinions. (It is certainly best for the autocrats.)
The revolutionary idea behind the Revolution was the Wisdom of Crowds works more often than not, and that a citizenry containing, to quote from Lincoln’s favorite poem,
The saint, who enjoyed the communion of Heaven,
The sinner, who dared to remain unforgiven,
The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just,
…will somehow, through the civic duty of voting, make sufficiently good decisions about the right people to represent and lead them to maintain a system of government more stable, effective, responsive and fair than those other models.
Though the acolytes of Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and, increasingly, the progressive wing of the Democratic party deny it, the Founders were correct beyond their own hopes and aspirations. Overall, our democratic model has done a remarkable job. It is in rough waters now, however, and has not had it best run of crowd wisdom either. The 2% contingency of bad luck and bad management has hit us with a vengeance (as, given enough time, was bound to happen, and will happen again), and there is a lot to worried about. Worst of all is the precipitous decline in public trust in our system and its leaders. The reasons for the decline—in the early Sixties, over 70% of the public trusted the government; while today the equivalent number is rapidly heading into the teens—are many; my little corner of the debate holds that the decline is substantially due to the lack of attention to ethical values in the culture and the ranks of our leaders.
Whatever the hierarchy of blame, the results when human beings are hurtling into the unknown and they think their pilots are venal, dishonest, self-aggrandizing, incompetent fools—that is, untrustworthy— are predictable. Humans get angry. They get frightened. They panic. They want revenge. They want someone to do something. They want change. And the less rational, historically literate, innovative, courageous, stable and educated among these people will decide that the response to these feelings is to metaphorically set their hair on fire, run in circles and scream.
That’s what Trump voters have been doing. The various officials, dialogues and others who know better and still have jumped on this flaming bandwagon aren’t acting in the best interests of the nation, they are doing what they think is in their own, narrow best interests, defined as “keeping influence and power.” It is hard to keep influence and power when you disagree with a mob. Indeed, history has shown that it can even be fatal.
Richard Pryor once said that when you are on fire, people tend to get out of the way, and when a huge number of people set their hair on fire, run in circles and scream, the natural impulse, if there are more of them than one can handle, is to let the blaze go out and wait for them to calm down. (Or one can set one’s own hair on fire to blend in.) When a nation’s future is at stake, however, waiting is a bad idea. Sane and rational people waited while the Great Terror took place during the French Revolution, as Hitler rose, as the Holocaust took root, while Stalin and Mao slaughtered millions, and innocent citizens were hanged as witches in Salem, Massachusetts. While they waited, these rational people said nice, friendly, calming things about the crazies, assuming they would calm the hell down.
This is recklessness itself. Widely rationalizing irrational conduct and irresponsible acts erodes society’s general consensus of right and wrong, and risks unraveling decades and centuries of cultural and ethical progress. The best weapon among many others, like knowledge of history and the power of objective analysis, is truth, and the longer that weapon is withheld, the less effective it is. Ethics Alarms begged for one of the Republican challengers to use the national forum of the debates to decisively expose and shame Donald Trump in the manner that Senator Joseph McCarthy was shamed and exposed, and none were up to the task. It may be too late for a “Have you no decency?” moment. That does not mean we have to play along with Trump’s foolish enablers, and pretend that decency no longer matters.
We must not do that. Trump’s rhetoric isn’t “distasteful”; it is proof that he is unstable, uncivilized, and unfit to lead. Trump supporters are not “uneducated and unlike us”; they are ignorant, driven by emotion, incapable of the reasoning necessary to be responsible participants in the democratic process and a danger to democracy itself. I don’t need to hear all the reasons this “silent majority” suddenly became activated, like some alien mold in a science fiction movie that gets hit by gamma rays and starts eating a city. The reasons don’t matter now. Okay, it wasn’t the mold’s fault either, but the fact remains that it’s eating the city.
Explaining that progressive have befouled themselves is similarly not responsive to the problem at hand. The solution to that, if true, is not to elect an irresponsible, narcissist, none-too-bright billionaire on an ego trip as the next President of the United States of America. That “solution” is so insane that to call it anything but is itself a breach of the duty of citizenship.
“It is equally possible that Trump’s ascendancy simply represents a backlash against the hyperbolic growth of progressive power that routinely uses ad hominem attacks to bolster their arguments. In short, many may think turnabout is fair play, or at least turning a blind eye toward the behavior of a candidate who is willing and economically able to weather the slings and arrows of the very far left is better than the alternative. Perhaps to them, he is their champion.”
Sure it’s possible, even likely. So what? When one of Jerry Springer’s moron guests from a trailer park responded to an argument by trying to pull her adversary’s hair, some detached and erudite observer could make the same observation. That doesn’t mean that conduct is acceptable, civilized, justified or worthy of societal approval. So he’s their champion. They are morons. Anyone who chooses the likes of Donald Trump as a champion has failed the test for competent citizenry put forth by the Founders . Res ipsa loquitur. Those with the education and perspective to understand this, and why, have an obligation to eschew diplomacy and be direct.
I have given Trump supporters a more than fair opportunity to make a substantive argument for their candidate. Quite simply, they can’t. Not one of them can, and not one of them has, even if I expand the definition of “argument.” On a conservative listserv that has fractured over this issue, with fairly educated and rational participants, the best of the Trump supporters can only respond that they hate Hillary Clinton, or Obama, or Mitch McConnell, or “the elites,” none of which is germane to supporting a con artist to lead the free world. The worst of them just write “Trump Trump Trump!” or the equivalent, over and over again. (One participant did this so often he was banned by the administrator.)
Finally, Chris writes,
“If I had to choose between Trumpsters. and the Occupier’s behaviors to stimulate dialogue I would prefer the Trumpsters. Despite Trump’s rhetoric, one must admit the actual violence that has occurred during the campaigns has been primarily initiated by the left. Not once have I seen Trump, Cruz, Rubio or other supporters attempting to shut down a Hillary or Bernie rally nor have any of Trump’s supporters damaged private and public property as they strive to obtain political power.”
This fail’s Chris’s usually rigorous standards of logic. First of all, Trump’s own conduct and words when protesters have visited his rallies under cut the dichotomy. He and others in his corner darkly warned of violence and riots if he was denied the nomination; maybe that was a ploy, maybe that was a bluff, but they know their acolytes better than I do. (I have looked, and if a single one of my family members, friends, colleague or associates regard Donald Trump as better than a dangerous buffoon, they have done a marvelous job hiding it.) Chris also is elevating the proclivity to resort to violent protest as the primary test of trustworthiness.
By that standard, he would have had to side with King George in 1776.