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What next, after Trump?
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jducoeur
[Some political musings. This is relatively off-the-cuff, not too carefully thought through yet, looking for responses.]

I finally finished reading siderea's latest opus, "The Two Moral Modes". (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) Highly recommended, although it falls somewhere on the spectrum between "disturbing" and "chilling". I wish I could say it was wrong, but I suspect the analysis is at least largely correct.

One of its premises is that there is a general mode of thought, common to many people in the US, to which Donald Trump is speaking *quite* directly, and that explains at least some of his devoted following. It has nothing to do with what I would usually call "morality", and (for purposes of this argument) not much to do with practical things like economics; rather, it has to do with espousing a firm distinction of "Us" vs. "Them", that taps into a not-very-latent desire for a well-defined out-group to abuse. None of this liberal wishy-washiness about "Them".

And I'm starting to realize that, in a weird way, we may have dodged a bullet. I mean, I believe that Trump is more an effect than a cause -- that he's tapping into a lot of pre-existing fear, hostility and (to use siderea's term) reviling, not just causing it through rabble-rousing. He's not steering this: rather, he has the born salesman's touch for figuring out what you already want, and pitching that *this* snake-oil is exactly that. If you look at his constant message changes, it's obvious that he's simply reflecting what he thinks folks desire.

Why is this lucky? Because he's such an *obvious* jackass. I mean, Trump is a cartoonish buffoon. He's doing a great job of turning himself into the leader that Mode 2 wants, but at the price of doing it so obviously that everybody else is completely repulsed. Unless you desperately *want* to believe in him, it's almost impossible to see the slightest sincerity or conviction (or competence) in the man.

Consider: what if we'd gotten a better politician instead? By historical standards of demagoguery, Trump is a crude amateur: unsubtle, careless, and crass. And he's *still* polling frighteningly well. Not well enough to get elected unless something weird and horrible happens, but well enough that, in a typical parliamentary system, he'd wind up leading one of the main parties in parliament, and quite possibly Prime Minister. A more polished operator, with his sales talent plus a modicum of discipline, might well have won this election even in the US.

So let's assume that Trump doesn't become President. (Because really, it's not worthwhile to assume the apocalypse.) If he *is* tapping into a deep latent stream of badness, that's not going to just go away -- it's going to keep fermenting. Indeed, given a taste of possible power, it's likely to catalyze and become something much more concrete.

At which point, what? Some of the politicians who *are* good at this, and sociopathic enough to view it cold-bloodedly, will surely be trying to figure out how to use it to their advantage. They won't *call* themselves fascists, of course, but the smart ones are going to recognize that there are a lot of people out there who are craving what amounts to a fascist / Mode 2 leadership, and will be trying to position themselves for that.

The silver lining is that Trump, through his sheer sloppiness, has probably woken everyone up to this. By being so obvious about it, he's breeding an early opposition. Still, I see a rocky road, and likely some serious political realignment, ahead. I don't see any way that the waves of emotion that Trump has stirred up are going to simply go away quietly.

Opinions? Anybody want to play with a bit of psycho-historical speculation here?
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Part of the problem, I think, is that the fascism well that Trump is drawing from is rooted in deep dissatisfaction with real things--which neither major party is currently addressing. When we have people who are getting the short end of the stick in large numbers, they're going to want to address that--and liberalism has been too watered down to do so (plus it's seen unrightfully as giving too much to "those" people--the others), while "conservatism" has turned away from anything compassionate or helpful to an unholy marriage of libertarian economics and social conservatism which offers no help to blue collar workers at all.

Of course, in the past, we've had similar populist movements; 1920s labor was racist, isolationist, and pro-worker, and of course the communist revolutions that swept Europe somewhat later were all about channelling the dissatisfaction of the working class. To a large degree, I think this only really went into remission with the Cold War and the Red Scare. Having a communist boogeyman simultaneously provided an external enemy and provided a counter-balance to communism as a movement offering an outlet for rage and a promise of real change.

So right now, the Soviet scare is mostly in remission. So while we don't have lots of people going that communism isn't all that bad, we're still seeing the racist, populist right flex their muscles again. My guess is that this will continue until at least one of:

1. They manage to elect a leader, and, predictably, it doesn't hurt (because implementing isolationist+racist solutions doesn't actually work, though it does hurt a lot of people).

2. We manage to successfully pronounce a new Evil Enemy in an effective way (probably by ISIS or a successor doing something really scary), and the people torn by populism and fear of the Other go for militarism instead for a while.

3. We manage to implement enough of a successful social safety net that the racists+fascists are left with just racism as a platform, and that one's sufficiently discredited that they wouldn't be able to form as much of a movement then.

I'm hoping for #3, of course, but not counting on it.

You've already seen my response: The Game of Power.

I have elsewhere suggested that Trump and Sanders are tuning in to the same sort of dissatisfaction with structure and process.

I have been, for parts of this year, substitute-teaching my synagogue's 8th grade class. The topic has been the Holocaust. We spent a bit of time on the rise of the Nazis, including specific attention to "how could this happen?" We looked at the events leading up to their initial election, the rhetoric and the results. Fairly early on in this process, most of the class said "hey, wait a sec...", so we started talking about the parallels. If *they* can notice and understand this, I'm hoping the rest of the country can too.

I will admit some mild cynicism about the average man in the street having the common sense of a smart 8th grader...

At which point, what? Some of the politicians who *are* good at this, and sociopathic enough to view it cold-bloodedly, will surely be trying to figure out how to use it to their advantage. They won't *call* themselves fascists, of course, but the smart ones are going to recognize that there are a lot of people out there who are craving what amounts to a fascist / Mode 2 leadership, and will be trying to position themselves for that.

What is to stop a smart politician from doing this even if Trump isn't elected? Just because Trump is sloppy, doesn't mean that others can't learn from it and do it "right".

Right -- that's my concern. Trump's being a sort of proof of concept, and I have to imagine a lot of politicians going, "I can do better than *that*"...

Right (also), I think Trump reveals something ugly in the electorate more than anything else :/

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