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Is Trumpism an existential threat?

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1 Is Trumpism an existential threat? on 3/9/2017, 7:10 pm

https://www.yahoo.com/news/is-trumpism-an-existential-threat-100032958.html

Copied and pasted an article from Political World by Matt Bai: it explains the conflicts I feel but was unable to express it and I think this article nails it pretty well.


I’ve been thinking about Barack Obama lately, and not because I suspect he ordered a tap on my phones, or directed his agents to eavesdrop through my flat-screen, although I like the idea of someone poring through hundreds of pages of transcripts of me ranting about how I can’t seem to switch channels without turning on the Xbox.

No, I’ve been thinking about the former president because of a conversation we had a couple of years ago now. Obama had been saying he didn’t consider terrorism an existential threat to the country, the way we once viewed the specter of nuclear war.

I asked Obama when, theoretically, he would consider Islamist terrorism to be an existential threat. I expected him to say it would be when al-Qaida or ISIS got its hands on nukes or managed to take down the computers that power our banks.

But Obama’s answer was different, and immediate — clearly he’d thought about it. He said terrorism would rise to the level of an elemental threat only when we responded to some eventual attack, as a culture, by turning against each other and betraying our own ideals. I think he used the word “overreacting,” though I can’t be sure.

This was well before anyone considered Donald Trump a plausible president of the United States, so Obama wasn’t talking about anyone in particular. Rather, he worried about some distant moment when America would surely continue to exist, but when the country as we’d known it — the world’s most powerful symbol of liberty and tolerance — might not.

At the time, I will tell you, I didn’t necessarily agree. It seemed to me a couple of dirty bombs or some nerve gas on the subway would constitute a pretty existential threat, at least in terms of our ability to go on with our daily lives. I still do.

But Obama’s warning seems to me sadly prescient now, and more pressing than he might have thought. It turns out we didn’t need another catastrophic attack to lose sight of our common convictions; we just needed a leader who would shamelessly exploit our darkest fears, with no regard for repercussions.

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I don’t think I’m being unfair here. Trump’s latest attempt at a travel ban from Muslim countries, which exempts legal residents and sidesteps an indefinite hold on Syrian refugees, would almost be a reasonable, cautious policy decision, were it not for two factors.

One is that we already vet these potential immigrants more closely than we do anyone else entering the country, and Trump and his team are the only ones who insist that terrorists are flooding the country disguised as refugees. The second is that we know what Trump is really after here, because he’s referred to his policy previously — if Rudy Giuliani can be believed — as a ban on Muslims, period.

And here’s what else is going on that you may have missed: Over the past few weeks, three Indian men have been shot in separate attacks around the country, two of them fatally, apparently because they could be mistaken for Muslims by ignorant extremists.

Trump condemned that brutality, but not before he’d created a new office at the Justice Department called VOICE — Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, which is pretty much a bunch of words jumbled together in search of an acronym. His announcement of that entirely unneeded initiative seemed to me a chilling moment in his overrated address to Congress; it called to mind Nazi-era propaganda meant to blame every societal ill on an alien race.

There’s a famous short story by Shirley Jackson that I remember reading in school — it’s called “The Lottery.” Basically, it’s about a small-town ritual where whoever picks the wrong number in a random lottery gets stoned to death. The point is that a fearful mob can easily be manipulated into turning on one of its own and distorting the norms of civic life.

Obama isn’t the only president who foresaw the danger of this dynamic. George W. Bush feared exactly this response after the terrorist attacks of 2001. As reactionary as Bush could be in world affairs, he made it a priority in the days after those attacks to visit with American Muslims, to make clear they were not the enemy, to caution the citizenry against rash and hateful reactions.

In general, leaving aside the occasional, isolated outburst, the governing establishments of both parties have acquitted themselves well in confronting this new age of terror and resurgent white nationalism. Americans don’t all agree on much, but we’ve generally accepted the idea that the country’s legacy as a nation of immigrants, indifferent to race or religion, is at the bedrock of what we consider to be our singular place in the world.

This is probably why we’ve had so much trouble finding any consensus on what to do about unlawful immigration. At its core, the problem — and it is a problem — pits two of our seminal ideals against each other: rule of law, on one hand, and compassion for outsiders, on the other.

But Trump isn’t of the governing class, and he doesn’t exist to sort out painful contradictions in public policy. From the moment he entered the political fray, he has breezily, almost thoughtlessly breached the boundaries of what used to be responsible political debate.

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He’s an entertainer, fueled, rather than repulsed, by the raw emotion of a mob. Trump looks at the fear that defines so much of America in the moment — an entirely reasonable fear not only of foreign terrorism, but also of fast-spreading automation, new and destabilizing global markets, substance abuse and a kind of spiritual dislocation — and he gives it a name.

Otherness.

Not only Muslims, but Mexicans. Not only the poor and powerless, but the educated and the politically correct, the news media whom he calls “the enemy of the American people.” He’ll happily lay waste to the granite cornerstones of the democracy — tolerance, pluralism, a free press — as long as the mob behind him stays loud and true.

He’s not alone. If you can believe what you read in the papers, the nationalist backlash Trump embodies is soon to sweep across Europe, too. America is a global beacon, still, but not in a way that should comfort our timid political leadership.

I’ve heard from a lot of readers in recent weeks, maybe people accustomed to my criticism of ideological dogmas generally over the years, who wonder when I’m going to write something affirming about this president.

The answer is: when he acts like one. (And reading from a teleprompter for an hour is a mighty low bar.)

It’s not the agenda that worries me especially; policies come and go, good and bad, and that’s why we debate them. It’s the cultural virus Trump seems willing to unleash, the meanness seeping across a land where “go back to your own country” is becoming a common mantra. It’s the uncomplicated, unconsidered assault on ideals that really do make America exceptional.

And it makes me wonder. What if Obama was right? What if this is the threat, more than any bomb or missile, that leads us down a path from which there’s no going back?

When does the governing majority in Washington stand up and say: “Enough”?

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When does the governing majority in Washington stand up and say: “Enough”?


When their cowardice to the fascist mob and fear of being stoned ends. It takes brave citizens and leaders to stand up to tyranny and fascism.

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The "governing majority" didn't get there by bending over to leftist crybabies.

A better use of your time would be figuring out your rejection from the local to state to federal govt.

Or don't... I'd frankly prefer you kept pounding your head against the wailing wall.

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Thanks for the good article, Knothead. I think our current situation with the president and Bannon in the WH and Congress of the same party (at least on the surface) is quite dangerous.

The danger is that 45 does not know American history. He does not know how the federal government works. He does not know what his powers and limits are. He doesn't know what he wants to do or how to go about making something happen.

The danger with Bannon is that he is dedicated to tearing down our institutions. He is at the far right, off in the fringes admiring people like Pamela Geller.

Yesterday I heard the author of Money Ball describe Trump as someone who was only interested in immediate short term gains with no thought to the consequences.

Maddow reported lately that Tillerson fired most of the career people in the State Department, basically hollowing it out. Any one of these things would be worrying but taken together with the addition of all the fauning over Russia and I really do think it would not take long to destroy the civil system we've developed.

Fortunately the situation is so dire it has awakened nearly everyone. We must preserve the courts and the free press.  

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PkrBum wrote:The "governing majority" didn't get there by bending over to leftist crybabies.

A better use of your time would be figuring out your rejection from the local to state to federal govt.

Or don't... I'd frankly prefer you kept pounding your head against the wailing wall.

Apparently you rejoice in the pain of others. It must be a lonely life.

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The author is correct in that Trump does pose an existential threat. But when he pretends that Bush didn't use exactly the same tactic...sorry...there was some backtracking after 9/11, but he blamed people who weren't responsible and shielded the Saudis...and most likely the Israelis (where Netanyahu is now in trouble). It might have been more subtle, but Bush definitely used the strategy of demonizing the "other".

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Floridatexan wrote:
The author is correct in that Trump does pose an existential threat.  But when he pretends that Bush didn't use exactly the same tactic...sorry...there was some backtracking after 9/11, but he blamed people who weren't responsible and shielded the Saudis...and most likely the Israelis (where Netanyahu is now in trouble). It might have been more subtle, but Bush definitely used the strategy of demonizing the "other".


As bad as Bush was with his lies re WMD, invading/disrupting entire regions, etc. the Trump phenomenon is totally in a different league and here's why.

Trump is being used by a professional, Putin. Trump has many flaws that the Russians can/do take advantage of, his speaking style that exploits emotion, his love of money and power, his shortsighted view of accomplishments etc.

I know he is being used because on his own he could never have come up with the things we are seeing taking place today in DC. The State Department is hollowed out with a proposal to reduce their budget by 37%; the press is being shut out whenever possible and the CIA is being attacked by Wikileaks. Oh, and there's something strange going on at the FBI too with their reluctance to investigate Trump's ties with Russia.

No, this situation is like no other we've ever been through and it is happening so quickly, that's what is frightening to me.

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othershoe1030 wrote:
Floridatexan wrote:
The author is correct in that Trump does pose an existential threat.  But when he pretends that Bush didn't use exactly the same tactic...sorry...there was some backtracking after 9/11, but he blamed people who weren't responsible and shielded the Saudis...and most likely the Israelis (where Netanyahu is now in trouble). It might have been more subtle, but Bush definitely used the strategy of demonizing the "other".


As bad as Bush was with his lies re WMD, invading/disrupting entire regions, etc. the Trump phenomenon is totally in a different league and here's why.

Trump is being used by a professional, Putin. Trump has many flaws that the Russians can/do take advantage of, his speaking style that exploits emotion, his love of money and power, his shortsighted view of accomplishments etc.

I know he is being used because on his own he could never have come up with the things we are seeing taking place today in DC. The State Department is hollowed out with a proposal to reduce their budget by 37%; the press is being shut out whenever possible and the CIA is being attacked by Wikileaks. Oh, and there's something strange going on at the FBI too with their reluctance to investigate Trump's ties with Russia.

No, this situation is like no other we've ever been through and it is happening so quickly, that's what is frightening to me.


Trump scares the shit out of me . . . . not for me or my family but for our country . . . .

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knothead wrote:Trump scares the shit out of me . . . . not for me or my family but for our country . . . .

Ditto. And for many like our Pkr to posit that we're just pissed because Hillary didn't win, is tragically off the mark. Trump and everything he stands for is thoroughly despicable and extremely dangerous.

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It is frightening but we are not helpless. Pressure at townhall meetings, demonstrations and marches all have an effect. Then there is an army of investigative journalists are on the job.

Just this second I see Maddow reporting that some of Trump's tax returns from 2005 have come to light via David Cay Johnston. Oh my!

I had already written the first two sentences before this news surfaced.



Last edited by othershoe1030 on 3/14/2017, 9:37 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Floridatexan wrote:
PkrBum wrote:The "governing majority" didn't get there by bending over to leftist crybabies.

A better use of your time would be figuring out your rejection from the local to state to federal govt.

Or don't... I'd frankly prefer you kept pounding your head against the wailing wall.

Apparently you rejoice in the pain of others.  It must be a lonely life.

He is not alone....far from it. Trump supporters back the President of the United States.

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othershoe1030 wrote:It is frightening but we are not helpless. Pressure at townhall meetings, demonstrations and marches. Then there is an army of investigative journalists are on the job.

Just this second I see Maddow reporting that some of Trump's tax returns from 2005 via David Cay Johnston. Oh my!

I had already written the first two sentences before this new surfaced.


Keep the pressure on them. "Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!" When enough of their dirt comes out in the wash, they will fall like dominoes.

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13 Re: Is Trumpism an existential threat? on 3/14/2017, 10:03 pm

Pathetic! 



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14 Re: Is Trumpism an existential threat? on 3/15/2017, 12:07 am



ORANGE OOMPA LOOMPA

Still defending this pathetic loser, even after you see how much he and the people around him consistently lie? Even after the knowledge that Russia (and Comey) conspired to influence our election? Even after you see the damage he's already done and plans to do in the future? SOME people who voted for Trump are waking up, because they actually see that he's reneging on his promises. The rest apparently don't understand the foundations of our democratic republic.

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Floridatexan wrote:

ORANGE OOMPA LOOMPA

Still defending this pathetic loser, even after you see how much he and the people around him consistently lie?  Even after the knowledge that Russia (and Comey) conspired to influence our election?  Even after you see the damage he's already done and plans to do in the future?  SOME people who voted for Trump are waking up, because they actually see that he's reneging on his promises.  The rest apparently don't understand the foundations of our democratic republic.



They have eyes and ears but they refuse to see.

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