Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The unmeasurable factors in the 2020 elections: fear and disgust

Last night's Democratic Party presidential candidate debate was an in-depth discussion about health care policy, but one candidate put her finger on something I have not been able to express. It is the underlying unease and disgust with Donald Trump that is hard to measure or to grasp in polls or even to express verbally. Marianne Williamson, the only non-politician on the stage, said it. is the "dark psychic force of hatred ..racism and bigotry".. Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough, on MSNBC expressed it another way: Donald Trump is scaring people.

I see it as the inevitable fallout of Donald Trump's demagogic techniques of governing by fear and hate, his personal attacks of people of color, his scoffing at the law to which he should be beholden, racist pot-stirring that disturbs civic peace, his unpatriotic welcoming of foreign governments to help him get re-elected, and his disgusting history of amorality in his approach to women.

We should also put some of this in terms of fear that our democracy is under attack from a president who aspires to be like his peers, dictators, and strongmen he admires in the world. Obvious to the public is his willingness to push aside the guardrails of checks and balances and an independent judiciary, to yearn for the end of term limits on the presidency, and to surround himself with only yes men with business and economic self-interests, or extreme ideological agendas,. While we whine the system we have now is not fair enough, dictatorships find fairness a challenge to their power to gain, control, and to keep their power. Those political science elements are one of many aspects of the fear Trump generates with his love of dictatorship and his disdain for democracy. Those are not the kind of changes so many expected in their bargain to vote for him in 2016 and choose a "strong leader", but they are disturbing to those who care about democracy. My fear is that these anti-democratic (small d) transgressions are not as disturbing as they should be to more. Yet the repercussions and damage to the freedoms we have taken for granted to dissent or speak out, or to have a peaceful regime change, are profound and insidious as they creep up on the unaware until it is too late to reverse them.

Other kinds of fears are so strong that many excuse his amoral, lying, and bullying behavior because Trump serves some personal, religious, or economic purpose or channels their own angst. Those fears are also real, caused by the economic turmoil in the manufacturing sector, the rise in power of other nations enough to challenge our once existence as the sole power survivor of World War II, and the changing racial makeup of the nation they see different from those existing years back. They see Trump as slowing down the changes they fear, even if he cannot roll it back. Instinctively Trump plays to these currents to win elections. He is both a symptom of their times and the fanner of the flames of hatred and the validation and inspiration to holders of such fears.

In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton mass killings a week later, Joe Biden spoke in Burlington Iowa addressing the moral issues and leadership in an epic and important address fleshing out his meaning that we are engaged in a battle for the soul of America. Pay attention to the latter half of his speech regarding this.

Aug 11, David Frum of the Atlantic put the unmeasurables in other terms, including shame..


No comments:

Post a Comment