Donald Trump lies.
Way more than most people.
I’m not trying to be cavalier.
And I don’t think Trump is good for America in the long term, so I’m not trying to normalize him – and I’m not trying to say “Democrats are worse”.
But Donald Trump gets away with conduct unbecoming of a President because of some specific things:
1) The fracturing of America. The internet, smart phones, the 24 hour news cycle, and a few other modern inventions have broken Americans into more and smaller groups when it comes to “what we believe is right and what we should do about it”. We used to believe the Russians were bad, and that the middle class, small businesses, baseball, and apple pie were good. Life was simpler, and around that we could build relatively stable ways to order our world and decide what to do. Now we all jibber jabber about our own little good on Facebook, and our level of social cohesion has gone down. Sociologists can tell you about funk that happens when a society’s cohesion goes down, and we’re seeing it now. In this environment, Donald Trump, with his populism, nice gains now from selling out our grandchildren (okay, we’ve been doing it all along, so is he so bad to step it up?), and nativism… he is cobbling together a bigger coalition than anybody else.
2) It’s not a lock that the Democrats can cobble together a coalition that’s bigger than Trump’s coalition of people happy with him for whatever reason they are. The Democratic party and liberal ideology has been around for a while, and although they’d like to think some day they’ll erase conservatism and Republicans forever, the truth is that won’t happen, even though Trump is being an idiot in quite a few ways. Even if the Republican party implodes, within ten years there will be a new, solid conservative party that looks and smells a lot like historical conservatism, with a few things probably switched around, and Democrats wouldn’t be able to un-alterably re-order the world to their liking in the meantime, it’s just never worked out that way – and for the most part attempts to do such things fail spectacularly, with the exception of the American Revolution, but that’s a story for another day.
3) Neo-liberalism and corporations are running more and more of the show. Corporate America is just pulling your strings, and you’re dancing well enough because it pays your bills. And if they get a tax cut they’ll invest, and if they invest they grow, and if they grow they hire, and if they hire then… yeah, the economy is good. We might look at the 1880’s through 1920’s to see about the sustainability of that, but…
4) If you look at history, megalomaniacal and authoritarian “leaders” come after times of mess and turmoil. We’ve got mess and turmoil, so we’ve got Donald Trump. Instead of just brushing that away as a temporary anomaly, or saying “with my ideas we wouldn’t have turmoil”, just check yourself. Either we’re having a tough time agreeing on anything at all so we fail-safe to the least common denominator of fear, see #1 above, or the same old retread ideas of the liberals (except with more fantasy) probably aren’t going to work massively enough better than they always have to suddenly set things straight, see #2 above.
5) Pundits are saying we’re “more divided” than we used to be. What does that mean? Well… for the most part, mainstream media talks about ideas as a competition between two sets of ideas, “liberal” versus “conservative”, and those are the reference points, and that is the context in which we evaluate everything. But I propose that liberalism and conservatism have become so self-referential and so jingo-y and so ideologically memed, and the powers that be within both structures are using purity tests to determine who has a right to speak for conservative or liberal ideas… within that, both ideologies are fairly divorced from reality on a fairly regular basis, and therefore not a basis for a system of government. Yes, within our framework of using a competition between liberal and conservative ideas, and over time having less and less common ground between them we’re “divided”… and that has an impact… BUT…
6) A whole bunch of people have just checked out of trying to decide or care about how the world should work. See #1, #2, and #5 above. And what they’ve checked out FROM is the ever shriller clash of liberal ideas and conservative ideas. They’re not sure what they want, but it’s not more “conservatives suck – NO liberals suck!”, on and on. So liberals current plan to “socialize everything” to fix global warming, poverty, and income inequality will go over like a lead balloon, because it requires a level of “checked-in-ness” and shared commitment and social cohesion that just doesn’t exist right now.
7) Reality TV and trolling are pretty darn popular in our culture, and Donald is a master at both of those art forms, and will have enough fans just for those two reasons that his support will probably not crater even a quarter as much as it “should”, all else being equal.
Donald Trump lies.
Way more than most people.
Well, it’s just a fact, he does.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lies too. Her Green New Deal is ridiculously absurdly preposterous.
Guess what? There’s things Donald Trump tells the truth about, i.e. gets to the meat of something that other politicians don’t. More on this in a future post, but it is a decent part of his base of power.
And guess what else? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also is sometimes very on point, where she gets to the meat of something that other politicians don’t. And this is a decent part of HER base of power.
But for the most part, Donald Trump and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are big fat liars, selling lies that won’t do most of us good in the long run, as a package. And they ARE BOTH selling a package… the lies and the truths mixed in as a package. And both are selling their packaged lies as all or nothing deals.
Here’s another thing about Donald’s lies… have you noticed how even his supporters who are very concerned about truth in their own lives are very unconcerned about DONALD TRUMP’S lies? Why is that?
Let’s say for a moment that maybe Trump supporters are right about one thing… that “hardcore liberals” are out of their skulls crazy, at least as a way to successfully run a world. Sure, maybe their version of “conservative” isn’t exactly even close to workable, either… but what I’m getting to is a parallel to how WE deal with people we think are crazy in our own lives, and when we get to a certain point that we think we’re right enough and they’re wrong enough, human beings will lie left and right, and justify it over and over.
Hard-core Trump supporters are pretty unanimous in thinking liberals are wrong enough that lies to combat all that wrongness are justified.
Pretty much ALL human beings do this in the face of massive drama in our own lives… and we sometimes get sucked into it when a whole family or social clique gets dragged into some feud. BUT… for everybody who just goes back to their liberal talking points as a method of dealing with it, you’re creating more of the same scenario that created Donald Trump as President in the first place.
We won’t get more workable politics until we fix things like divisiveness and trolling, and we stop watching such huge amounts of crap on TV, and we start having real conversations on how to get the best of both individual action and group action, and we start getting back to sensible ideas as the center of our political debate, and we start re-engaging a significant number of those undecided and moderate people who have checked out on the real business of running the world.
How do we do that?
Let’s keep talking about synergy in the middle.