Friday, July 29, 2016
[I originally posted this on Facebook but I liked it so here it is for prosperity:]
I think the Democrats -- with whom I have many, many issues -- did an excellent job of articulating the essence of Trumpism in fundamental terms and framing the election as a referendum on it (which it is). That is almost unprecedented in contemporary politics and deserves high praise.
This was particularly true of POTUS' speech and the (sadly too few) good parts of HRC's acceptance speech. Way better stuff than anything the media has done in covering or analyzing Trumpism, where I find them to be at best superficial and at worst enabling of Trump.
I've been thinking about this and railing against Trumpism for a year, yet things they said genuinely helped me crystallize my own thinking. That's saying something. Specifically:
1. Great job (again, esp. by POTUS) referring to 'Trumpism' as a thing: a belief system shared by a group of people. It isn't just Trump coopting the Republican party and his supporters being bamboozled: this is an ideology embraced by his ardent supporters because they believe it.
2. Not only articulating what the core intellectual principles of Trumpism are -- nativist tribalism, protectionism and economic nationalism -- but also making it clear that those principles are unAmerican. Being a Trump supporter *means* you embrace those things. The enthusiastic ones embrace them proudly and the reluctant ones do so tacitly, but *that* is what it means to support or vote for Trump.
3. Recognizing that the nature of those beliefs *requires* totalitarianism. The Trumpies admire Trump's authoritarian tendencies because on some level they understand that bringing their fundamentally unAmerican ideals to this country requires us to abandon American principles -- individual rights, freedom of religion, acceptance of people with different ideas -- and replace them with a strong man who tells us what to do, because those things can't happen in a country where our form of Constitutional government functions. To paraphrase POTUS, these people want to be ruled.
4. They articulated much of this in simple, understandable terms (unlike what I just did), weaving in concrete examples, idealogical content and a sense of contrasting tone/worldview.
If the Democrats can keep this up and the election results in a rejection of the very essence of Trumpism, they will have done this country a great service.