Donald Trump — Is there a silver lining?

Like 24 million other people, I watched the Republican debate last Thursday. I was on Twitter with the rest of the political junkies looking for cheap laughs. And there were plenty. And then, improbably, the Trump story keeps on going.

Griping about the hard questions from Megyn Kelly, he said that blood was coming out of her “whatever.” “Whatever.” I could say that over and over. “Whatever” “The Whatever Monologues”

Of course, Donald Trump is a train wreck, PT Barnum, a light weight, sexist, whatever. Of course. Steve, my husband who sees Nazis everywhere, compares his nationalist message with midwar Germany. I love the story that Bill Clinton convinced him to run. I love the story that Murdoch and Ailes are fighting about how to deal with him.

Last week, before the debate, I took Jonah to the orthodontist. His front two teeth have started returning to their default gap position, but that’s another story. Jonah was stretched out in the chair with a college kid in the next chair in the row. The orthodonist sees patients in a factory-like system with a large staff of hygienists. We were the last patients of the day, so the staff was cleaning up and chatty. We started talking about the debate. They all had opinions.

Then the college kid piped up. He said that he had a summer job answering the phones in the property manager’s office for one of Trump’s hotels in the city. He said that he received phone calls all day long from people who must have googled Trump’s name for the hotel phone number and were just calling to give their support. When the college kid imitated these callers, he gave them a strong Southern accent.

Trump will certainly burn out, so I don’t think anyone is really worried. No one with an ego that fragile can last long on the political stage. So, does Donald offer us anything? The wall stuff is silly, of course, but is there anything of value that is coming out of this side show? Critiques of the Clinton Foundation and campaign finance holes?

9 thoughts on “Donald Trump — Is there a silver lining?

  1. I am like Steve. I worry about Nazis everywhere. I’m sure there were plenty of people in Germany who thought Hitler would burn out, too. And certainly, there were, in Britain and France. I don’t think Trump is Hitler, but I think the plan of assuming he will burn out is not a good one.

    The silver lining that I can see is that we need to think hard about the people in his base, and why they are attracted to him. Some of what they might want (xenophobia antagonism towards the “other”, for example), is not negotiable. But the pessimism about the future, the fear that they are being left out, how to help them cope with a world in which they might indeed be a minority, those things we might be able to talk about.

    I recently received a missive from a advocacy group for my ethnicity, a group that doesn’t mind taking on battles. It’s titled “We’ll be foreigners for a long long time”, and argues that ethnic group needs to work for political power, not assimilation. That’s a changing land scape, and, I believe, some of the reason for the current culture battles. Groups that accepted their role as outsiders, are rejecting that role. As an example, I never mind when people ask “where are you from”. I have spent a lot of life being “from somewhere” other than where I am (sometimes another country, but also just another place). But, my children object to the question. They say they are from here. And, indeed, they are. My daughter takes forceful stands against sexism that I saw as being unavoidable and rejects the idea that in order to play with the big boys, she has to act like them.

  2. PS: Happy Birthday — you are looking awesome in your picture and, I am a little distressed that you are apparently a bit older than me🙂.

  3. Any time I hear that Trump will burn out or there’s no way Bernie Sanders will win the nomination, I remember how likely I thought it was ten years ago that a black man whose middle name is Hussein would end up in the White House.

    My guess – based on red state relatives and high school friends – is that much of the attraction to Trump is indeed xenophobia. But I think it would be helpful to have a less pejorative term – it does seem patently unfair to me to bring in enormous numbers of foreign workers (either by turning a blind eye to Central American immigration or expanding HB 12 visas or any other legal means) while we bleed manufacturing jobs and allow companies to eliminate and export jobs that used to keep families in the middle class. Then we expect people who are doing far less well than their parents and whose children’s prospects are even worse to be happy about it. If red staters were seeing consistent job and wage growth, I suspect Trump would be a non-issue.

    While I wish I heard less demonizing of immigrants and more about the unfairness of running immigration and trade policy to benefit large multi-national businesses at the expense of the (former) middle class, I am actually hopeful that they are striking support for Trump, as repulsive as he is to me, than some other me-too pro-big-business Republican.

  4. Some of what Trump says cannot be seen as anything but xenophobic and racist. Especially since the solutions offered (building really big walls at the Mexican border; deporting all the families whose wage earners are undocumented) are unlikely to do very much to stop the flow of manufacturing jobs away from the US.

    I am not a fan of the H-1B visa program (which I consider a form of indentured servitude), but it doesn’t have much to do with the collapse of manufacturing in the US, either.

    The solutions to stagnating wages, the lack of jobs that sustain a middle class lifestyle aren’t much affected by those things, which makes the anger scapegoating, rather than substantive. Increasing the minimum wage, though, might make a difference.

    1. No, it doesn’t have much to do with the collapse of the manufacturing sector. I think eventually the elite will have to abandon free trade or accept a big expansion of the public sector or have more people get more and more angry.

  5. I don’t think he’s Hitler. Probly Berlusconi is the closest. Embarrassing clown gets power because the historical elite has been too tiresome and dismissive of popular will.

  6. I think Hillary would pwn Trump so thoroughly during a debate that his head might explode on live tv. The mere thought warms the cockles of my cranky partisan heart.

    Nazi schmazi, I think Hillary vs Donald would make Reagan-Mondale look like a nailbiter. Puerto Rico, DC and the US Virgin Islands would all spontaneously gain statehood just to push him further into the dustbin of history.

    Anyway, this week I have seen real live posters put up by the Nationalpartei Deutschlands (I think that’s what NPD stands for, can’t entirely be arsed to keep track of such luzers) and they seem to be favoring the local election of judges, which might give some people pause if the circle of folks who think about the NPD and care about US local institutions were larger than just me.

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