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Friday, July 22, 2016

Trump Presidency: A Bigger Picture

It is unfortunate that voters often do not take into full consideration the damage, problems and difficulties that can extend from one Presidential administration into the future, affecting new generations. There are probably several quite cogent reasons for not “using one’s head,” about this, but perhaps it simply goes back to something I’ve said before on this Blog:  our brains favor making short-cuts to reality.  Too often we fail to take differing types of information as a tool for discovery rather than as a threat to what one already believes or holds as “true” or “false.”
 Commonly referred to as “cognitive biases” (“tendencies to think in certain ways that can lead to systematic deviations from a standard of rationality or good judgment”), the following may be examples of some biases that pertain to being unable to deal with future consequences (many of which have been on display of late in Cleveland):
1) “Confirmation” bias -- a “tendency to interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions – but it often limits the ability to take in new data and thereby change old opinions.”
2) “Anchoring” or “focalism” – the predilection for relying too heavily on one piece of information when making decisions: people with this kind of bias often cannot discern or imagine any other solutions. 
3) “Bandwagon effect” – the tendency to do or believe things because others do; related to group-think and herd behavior
4) “Availability cascade” - A self-reinforcing process in which a collective belief gains more and more plausibility through its increasing repetition in public discourse ("repeat something long enough and it will become true").
5) “Conservatism” - The tendency to revise one's belief insufficiently when presented with new evidence, thus being satisfied with the “status quo”
Just to give you a taste of some of the consequences with which we find ourselves living, that evolved from conservative Republican administrations, let’s start with a military man, very conservative in many ways; a hero to many who proclaimed: “I Like Ike.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Even this moderately conservative Republican gave us some long-term results that linger.  His administration allowed the CIA to function as a ‘shadow’ government, disrupting regimes in other countries, e.g. Indonesia, Cambodia, Cuba, the Congo, and most of all, in Iran where Prime Minister Mosaddegh was overthrown (with CIA help) and the Shah was placed in power. Although the CIA today is somewhat more controlled, we inherited both the enmity of certain countries, such as Iran, and the allowance of secretive exploits by the CIA; such as current monitoring of personal phone calls, emails, other communications (and let us not forget the use of water-boarding under George W. Bush-Dick Cheney).  Internal spying on countries both friendly and not so friendly are all extensions of the extra-curricular activities of the CIA and other intelligence branches in this and subsequent administrations. 
Beware those who live and die by total warfare against others, including unchecked covert operations – the consequences always come back to haunt us both at home and abroad.
Richard M. Nixon:
We still live with Nixon’s ‘southern strategy’ that changed voting patterns in our South for future decades. His campaign ‘dirty tricks’ also changed voter trust for government into a distrust still exploited today by Right-wing candidates.  National Government has been made into an enemy and that produces the Right-wing push for states’ rights and state takeover of national programs.  One long-term consequence: Medicaid returned to the states will result in current health-directed dollars being re-directed toward state administrative costs, simply because the national administrative structure will be eliminated.
Beware those who see states as the be-all and end-all for governing ourselves.  We have tried it more than once and failed each time, e.g. the early Articles of Confederation had to be abandoned in light of the Confederation’s inability to supply our Revolutionary War troops. Beware the Party that declares the evilness of a central government, without mentioning the inability or failure of states to provide their own citizens with adequate health care, retirement benefits, jobs or education, a clean environment, or a thoroughly modern infrastructure adequate for large corporations that are themselves multi-national.  We must maintain a strong national government to produce outcomes that will address national problems, needs and issues like those just mentioned.  
Ronald Reagan: 
We also live with the consequences of Ronald Reagan having fired striking air traffic controllers thereby emboldening future conservative leaders toward ‘Right to Work’ laws, constant attacks on union activities and the abrogation of employee rights and benefits, such as an adequate health care plan or retirement plan for every worker. 
Beware the Trump backers who tout the businessman image and who say that he loves his workers and learns much from them.  Why then does he oppose unions, a minimum wage (the concept itself), and equal pay for women? 
Trump, and many of his supporters, have inherited or acquired the false assumption that organized Labor is bad for Business.  ORGANIZED LABOR IS NOT BAD FOR BUSINESS; it’s a check on business practices that exploit workers and consumers and a boon to businesses that treat workers with dignity and respect.
Is organized Labor the reason for losing manufacturing firms to other countries – no, that happened because Business decided to exploit the workers in other countries  and because a certain Republican administration set up some favorable conditions under which businesses could leave our shores, make a pile of profit and protect those profits in off-shore non-taxable accounts. 
Is organized Labor the reason why so many employees of private businesses are being summarily fired or laid-off without a procedure in place to protest their forced exit?  Hardly.  Are Labor unions responsible for employee losses of healthcare, pension, and pay check?  No; businesses are taking advantage of the non-union shops and exploiting workers every chance they get, even in the non-profit sector.   
These are just a few examples of negative enduring consequences of voting for Right-wing conservative candidates for President.  There are more actual examples; check them all out at: (from which was gathered some of the material above).
Now striding upon the scene comes Donald J. Trump… who unfortunately embodies every far Right doctrinaire policy and idea that has gone before him, to which he has added more by asserting fascist-like rhetoric and actions that have no place in United States politics.  However, there are enough frighteningly-biased voters and moneyed sponsors behind him that he is now the actual Republican nominee for President of these United States.  
The enduring nightmarish consequences of his possible election are many, but we will mention just a few for your consideration.
  • One or more Supreme Court nominees that will lean the Court to the Right for several generations, thus preventing all progressive values and programs from seeing the light of day.  Meaning specifically, the loss of Roe vs. Wade and the right to a legal abortion.  But that’s not all: it relegates women to criminal status, causes deaths from botched illegal abortions, and relegates women to a less competitive status. 
  • An opposition to: bargaining rights, the minimum wage (not just a raise but the concept itself), equal pay for equal work, paid family leave, promises to devastate our work force and their families for many years.  All those white working men who believe Trump will take care of them will be toiling for peanuts.  Trump will betray you just like Reagan betrayed the unions and workers who supported him.
  • And guess what?  Under Trump there will be a reduction in unemployment benefits, and no special programs for out-of-work or poverty-level wage earners.
  • Other Government Benefits will not be readily available, like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, CHIPs, transportation aid, rent subsidies, public housing units, retirement pensions, or social services.  Low-wage earners are going to be out-of-luck.  It would not be surprising to see the return of tent cities, work crews beholden to industry moguls; control of every aspect of the lives of those living mouth-to-mouth in the hands of the privileged bankers, financiers, manufacturers and industrialists.  If you thought government hand-outs to those in poverty were reprehensible; wait until you see what the Trump crowd will be handing out, or not handing out, as the case may be. 
  • Just what do you expect will happen when the military and weapons of destruction are allowed to build up to enormous proportions in order to make America feel great again?  Well, it won’t be to keep the peace.  Trump has already threatened to use atomic weapons against ISIS, and some countries like North Korea and Libya and Syria are not on his all-time favorites list either.  Anybody who messes with Trump will experience war as a first response.  But war brings consequences that last for decades.  We are still paying off war debt that has accumulated since WWII, and still dealing with the competition and enmity of former enemies.
  • If the last week is any indication, we will have Mr. Trump to thank for a division of groups of people along lines that are designated by his government. His animosity toward Muslims, Mexicans, Syrians, and people of color, plus a few more categories like women and young protestors, tends to make the Wall he wants to build on our southern border a sinister image of walling off or segregating certain portions of our population.  Perhaps internal walling-off will be less by physical walls then by means of restrictive policies, laws, regulations, rules and lack of opportunities.  Why not? several of his Governor colleagues like Christie and Pence (V-P nominee) have already done so!
  • Watch out for Trump trying to please Evangelicals by signing legislation that allows religious objections to health care provisions – birth control specifically.  And, watch out for the creeping menace of religion inside government and vice versa (already begun under George W. Bush) to be continued under Donald Trump who wants immediately to remove any restrictions on churches regarding tax exemptions, private school support from tax dollars and eligibility for government grants.
  • What about his commitment to “Law and Order?” Does that mean the police will be more militarized and more at war with their neighborhoods and communities rather than fulfilling their role as protectors of the populace?  Does it mean riots in the streets will be controlled by murdering and wounding everyone who “looks like a criminal?”  No one that I know wants to live under such conditions, because it will affect all of society, not just protestors or poor people or racial minorities.  We are in for a dismal future dedicated to law and order rather than to liberty and justice for all.
Just what constitutes “Law & Order”?  Some people say it is the “Rule of Law” in contrast to rule by despots or tyrants, or by the mobs in the streets who believe that they are above the Law.  Broadly speaking, “Law and Order” is basically the condition of a society brought about by the observance of certain legislated rules and laws under strict control by police who have the power to act to prevent crime, to detain and arrest, to bring charges (sometimes of dubious validity), and to bring violators into a court of law.  But, it is strange how ‘Law & Order’ in radical Republican words and phrases keeps sounding like a war on certain folks in certain categories or circumstances. 
Just like the “War on Drugs” and the “Southern Strategy” -- and now the Republican call to “Support the Long Blue Line” of police officers – Trump’s “Law and Order” is nothing more than a dog whistle meant to be heard essentially by white citizens only.  These various nefarious strategies represent Republican attempts to discriminate against people of color and refugees (particularly those with darker skin).  Movements or organizations that protest society’s treatment of these groups, and the protestors themselves who disrupt the order of things with their demands for change, reform and revolutionary actions, will be under constant scrutiny and harassment.  Just like ACORN and Planned Parenthood, they will feel the long arm of the Law and Order police as they swoop down and make arrests on newly “TRUMPED-UP” charges. 
“Law & Order” has little to do with protecting the vulnerable in our society, or those who have no money to spread around, or those who face economic and social challenges every day of their lives. “Law & Order” has little to do with equal justice for all and in fact is code for unequal justice needing to be meted out to those who don’t conform to the white establishment’s rules and standards. 
Remember please, that our Constitution does not contain the phrase “Law & Order.”  It prefers justice, tranquility, common defense, general welfare and the blessings of liberty for all, not just a few.  It does provide for calling forth the ‘militia’ to “suppress insurrections and repel invasions” but it does not define protesting in a non-violent manner as equivalent to “insurrection,” nor does the Supreme Court. 
“Law & Order” remains a dog whistle invented by conservatives to warn the white and privileged citizens of this nation that one or another group needs to be “put in its place.”  That is its essence, its flaw and its preferred outcome.  Anyone who mistakes it for an appropriate ideal to pursue has swallowed a radical Right-wing line that leads us right back to the horrors of slavery, Jim Crow laws, lynching’s, police shootings, forced segregation and subjugation, and the unjust incarceration of minority men and women. 

Donald Trump takes pleasure in being the “Law and Order” candidate.  Why?  Because it fits with his bullying persona, his business values of cut-throat competition where only the strong survive, and his view of the world which is seen from a Tower bearing his name.  From that Tower, he gets to look down on everyone below, and from that Tower he can pursue whatever he pleases, no matter who it hurts or to whom it is offensive and damaging. 
In spite of the rosy words surrounding him from other convention speakers, Donald Trump has been named in at least 169 federal lawsuits, according to a investigation. “They read like a history of Trump’s business failures, successes, and bombastic personality.  The federal lawsuits… date back to 1983 and involve everything from business disputes, antitrust claims and, more recently, accusations that Trump’s campaign statements are discriminatory against minorities. He’s been sued by celebrities, personal assistants, prisoners, people in mental hospitals, unions, and wealthy businessmen.”
The White House and the Oval Office are meant to be different – the ‘Peoples House’ it has been called, where some earlier-day Presidents used to welcome crowds of people who were looking for help, redress of grievances, or maybe a special government hand-out.  In modern terms it is meant to be the place where the People’s business is transacted in ways that will benefit them, bring justice, and solve problems, dependent to a great extent on the attitudes and beliefs of the one who holds the Office and on those he/she appoints to play a key role in the mission and purposes of the administration.
In view of the useless, negative and meaningless rhetoric of Trump family members, politicos and others, on the campaign trail and in the convention hall in Cleveland, it all comes down to this:  Donald Trump has demonstrated that he is not fit to be President of the United States.  The directions he has proposed are contrary to our cherished ideals of liberty and justice for all; of providing opportunities for the vulnerable; of protecting all people equally; of meeting the legitimate needs of our people, and of providing for the General Welfare of all of the people within our borders (not just citizens), plus honoring treaty provisions of common defense for the nations of NATO. 
The fact that his acceptance speech contained just one ‘concrete’ proposal for change -- building that wall on our southern border – is demonstration enough that he is unqualified for this office.  Rather than propose specific steps to be taken to change policy or regulations (beyond Obamacare repeal and two treaties re-negotiated) he made it abundantly clear that everything depends on him as the change Agent, as the Facilitator, as the Negotiator.  That is equivalent to authoritarian leadership -- the strongman who has charge of everything and everybody. 
Beware the meaning of Trump leadership – being the Champion, the Voice, the ‘Only One’ who can make something happen.  Democracy does not work that way, and Donald Trump is spouting fascist ideology of the cult of ‘der Fuhrer.’   The continuing consequences of putting such a cult leader in charge of our government are found in the histories of many nations across our globe.  Democracy is “messy” but authoritarian leadership is brutal and lethal.
In conclusion, let me share with you a comment from Newsvine (dated June 20, 2016  by someone who identifies himself as "jim32780") that sums up some of the reasons why, despite the lies and innuendos heaped upon Hillary Clinton during these last few days by Republican attack-dogs, we must vote for Hillary Clinton for President.  It tells exactly what we are voting about: not personalities, but progressive issues, values and actions.

 I don’t see this election as voting for Clinton.  I see it as voting for The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Voting Rights Act, Food Stamps, Minimum Wage, Union Rights, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Roe v. Wade, Marriage Equality, the Department of Education, National and Community Services Act, union activities by federal employees, environmental research at the Department of Energy, USAID, intercity and high-speed rail grants, Community Development Fund, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, a liberal majority on the Supreme Court for the next 30 years that will overturn Citizens United, plus whatever Senator Sanders can get done with a Democratic Senate and a Democratic President.

If Trump is elected, all that is gone.  It’s not about Clinton.  It’s about over 80 years of the Progressive Movement that we’re in danger of losing because we’re not looking at the bigger picture.”