Tuesday 1 March 2016

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Trump

Yes, Trump would be a terrible, terrible President. But he'll be as institutionally constrained as the others. So things won't be as bad as you might think.

Here's me at The Spinoff, with a round-up of eight reasons that you're likely overestimating how bad things would be - and especially if you're used to a Parliamentary system with party-line votes.

A snippet:
4. I doubt Trump will feel much constrained by any of the things he’s mooted as policy during the campaign.
Trump isn’t running on policy, he’s running on mood. He clearly has some pretty crazy policy views, but he’s also pretty clearly making policy up as he goes, sometimes just to get an applause line. So long as whatever policy he winds up promoting is consistent with the mood he’s setting, whether it meets the letter of what he’s said in the campaign probably won’t matter much. Why?
5. Trump should be better than most at providing the symbols his supporters want, while gutting the substance, when he needs to.
Again, Trump isn’t really running on policy. He’s running on the long frustration felt by rather a few Americans. Working class, high-school-educated Americans living away from the coasts in ‘fly-over country’ have been the objects of elite derision for ages. Does Trump seem better or worse than most at providing the kinds of symbols his supporters crave, while not doing much of substance?
To be really clear: I am in no way saying it won't be bad. It just likely won't be as bad as you're expecting.

The really scary thing is that there seems to be a big constituency for what he's selling. Worry less about Trump, more about that.

Update: On that last point, see also Steven Mazie's piece over at Big Think.
What’s going on? Will Wilkinson, a former Big Thinker, tweeted this week that while he’s “not convinced Trump would be a disaster as president” — presumably because of the formidable constitutional, institutional, and political constraints that limit how much damage (or good) any president can do — he is “convinced a Trump win would be proof of a preexisting cultural disaster.” I think that’s just about right. ANew York Times analysis of exit polls from South Carolina and other survey data reports that Trump supporters are thoroughly intolerant of people unlike themselves. People who want to ban Muslims from coming into the United States, not so surprisingly, flock to Trump. But so do voters with bones to pick with other large, undifferentiated groups of people: gays, blacks, and foreigners, to name a few.
One-third of Trump supporters look fondly on the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, while only around one-tenth of Marco Rubio and John Kasich voters hold this discredited view. Seventy-eight percent of GOP voters in South Carolina say they oppose the idea that whites are a superior race, but only 69 percent of Trump supporters do. Seventy percent of Trumpites oppose the decision to lower the Confederate battle flag at the South Carolina statehouse in the wake of last year’s deadly shooting in a Charleston church, and 38 percent lament that the South did not win the Civil War. Maybe most alarmingly, nearly one in five Trump voters admits to opposing the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 move to free southern slaves. And a third of Trump supporters would like to ban gays and lesbians from entering the United States.

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