Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The Method To His Madness

Donald Trump is mad. There can be little doubt of that. But, E.J. Dionne writes, there is a method to his madness:

One of the many costs of the Trump era is the dumbing down of our political discourse. The incoherent spoken and tweeted outpourings from President Trump and the daily outrages of his administration leave little time for serious debate about policy or meaningful dialogue about our larger purposes.
News outlets are entirely justified in lavishing coverage on the sensational and the personal, since developments in these areas are a part of a bigger story that could undermine the Trump presidency all together. Nonetheless, the circus that Trump has brought to town is nearly as much of a threat to a well-ordered political system as is Trump himself.
This is where the Trumpian circus benefits the Trumpian project. If there are too many scandals for any one of them to seize our attention for long, all of them taken together allow what are potentially very unpopular policies to take root without much scrutiny.

Amid the total chaos of the Trump administration, all kinds of nasty policies slide by unnoticed. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Healthcare is slowly strangled. And, most importantly, nobody believes anything anymore:

Intellectual confusion and ambivalence now haunt the West. Older and once vital systems of thought—in Europe, Christian democracy and social democracy; in the United States, New Dealism and free market conservatism—have an ever-weaker hold on the popular imagination.

Madeleine Albright lived through the last period of mass confusion. Dionne writes that her book Fascism: A Warning is a call for public attention. Mr. Trump is hoping that very few people are paying attention.



Anonymous said...

The constant stream of outrages was predicted at the beginning of the Trump regime by Gary Kasparov and others with experience of authoritarian governments. The opposition is kept off-balance and unable to predict where the next outrage will come from, while supporters are energized as the regime attacks its enemies. The media, already predisposed to support institutions of power, fears losing access and is gradually bent to the will of the government or shut down.

The U.S. doesn't have much time left to clean house and is likely already past the point of no return. The longer the GOP remains unrestrained the worse it will get. If Mueller doesn't charge members of the Trump family soon, the GOP will use the opportunity to further gut the rule of law.


Owen Gray said...

I agree, Cap. The longer the GOP controls all three branches of government, the more dire the situation will get. And, unless the Democrats change their standard oeratating procedure, the more hopeless the whole siuation.

The Mound of Sound said...

Cap is right. Governance in the United States needs a top to bottom overhaul if plutocracy is to be averted. The 2014 Princeton study by Gilens and Page laid bare the fact that America is no longer a democracy. The Economist didn't go that far but still labeled the U.S. a flawed democracy in this year's global survey.

The cornerstone of a democratic is campaign finance reform but that's a non-starter. The legislatures have been captured. There's a reason why America's oligarchs have pumped billions into campaign donations. It's pittance compared to the payoff they reap.

It leads to ridiculous outcomes. Trump has been angrily complaining that Amazon doesn't pay enough taxes and yet the Republican tax reform gave Amazon a 789-million dollar windfall. Amazon, by the way, paid no federal taxes in 2017. Nothing. Yet it got a 789 million dollar tax windfall.

What began as the capture of a bought and paid for Congress has progressed into regulatory capture. A piece in the Guardian the other day argued that Pruitt's EPA has been so corrupted the only way to fix it is at the ballot box which, itself, is made all the more problematic by hacking and targeted voter manipulation. Trump has already left it too late to secure American voting in time for the November mid-terms.

It's a farce.

the salamander said...

.. this was Stephen Harper 101
Lie every single day
and after say 100 days
nobody can keep track..

Yes some intrepid journalists will
but the public eyes glaze over
at Day 50.. and they shrug
and decide never to vote again

Owen Gray said...

It's no accident that a man whose chief claim to fame was his wealth is now president of the United States, Mound. He set out to prove that he could buy the presidency. He -- and a select group of oligarchs -- did just that.

Owen Gray said...

Dr. Goebbels understood the power of the oft repeated lie, sal. And so does Trump.

Lorne said...

Perhaps Yeats said it best, Owen:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

And people tell us arts' studies are passé.

Owen Gray said...

The arts have a lot to say about human nature, Lorne. And Donald Trump says a lot about human nature -- none of it good.