Is the U.S. about to administer Chemotherapy to it’s body politic?

Posted: June 6, 2016 by tallbloke in People power, Philosophy, Politics

trump-clownReblogged from Quillette

[Editor’s Note: This article was rejected by 45 different magazines, periodicals, and journals across the political spectrum: Far left, left, center, unaffiliated, right, far right, and libertarian.]

Trump is a monstrous choice for president. Monstrous. He’s a demagogue with a clear bent to authoritarianism. He’s completely politically inexperienced and has no clear idea what constitutes successful, appropriate, or even legal behavior for an elected official. He has repeatedly proven himself to be virtually incoherent on foreign policy, economics, diplomacy, and the military. His only true assets are self-promotion, juvenile tweets, and belittling his enemies. He’s barely qualified to be president of anything, especially anything with a military. It goes without saying, then, that essentially no one in their right mind should want him as President of the United States of America. The problem, however, is that America is no longer in its right mind. Major political cancers are driving it to madness.

But what would happen should Trump get elected? On the Right, President Trump would force the GOP to completely reorganize—and fast. It would compel them to abandon their devastating pitch to the extreme right. The Republican Party would have to get back on the rails, and do so quickly, to reclaim a stable position in American politics. On the Left, the existence of the greatest impossible dread imaginable, of President Trump, would rouse sleepy mainline liberals from their dogmatic slumber. It would force them to turn sharply away from the excesses of its screeching, reality-denying, uncompromising and authoritarian fringe that provided much of Trump’s thrust in the first place. And underlying it all rests the question of influence and utility of big money in American politics. That is, after all, largely how we got here in the first place, with astroturfed populism combined with huge corporate campaign donations for political tools and extremists short-sightedly planting most of the seeds for these newer, louder issues.

Of these cancers, perhaps the most significant is today’s mainline Republican Party, which is best described as being hyper-right and utterly recalcitrant (firmer critics describe it as obstructionist and seditious). Given the GOP’s grotesquely partisan behavior during the entire tenure of Obama’s two terms in office, it hardly needs detailing that the Republican flight from Eisenhower conservatism to the borderline insane far-far-Right bunker it has backed itself into is one of the greatest domestic political challenges that America currently faces.

Trump’s shocking and meteoric rise in the Republican primaries has already put the GOP house in shambles, however, and the metaphor is almost too sweet to pass up. Over the past two decades, and especially the last eight years, the Republican Party has allowed ideological corruption to rot its once stable, corporate structure from within, and meanwhile a constant gale of far-Right pressure has shoved upon the party from at least two sides, the religious Right and the anti-government Tea Party and its sympathizers. Even an institution as old and robust as the Party of Lincoln is not sustainable against these forces, and so the house of GOP condemned itself. Then, in walks a take-no-prisoners real-estate mogul, declares the entire enterprise a loss, and becomes the very wrecking ball that smashes it to pieces.

A second cancer is the far-Right’s mirror image: the shrieking, victimhood-obsessed culture on the far Left. Trump’s rise isn’t just explained by the failure of the GOP to get its house in order, conduct responsible politics, or find a single qualified candidate to run for the office. Trump’s rise follows directly from backlash to two words: political correctness. These two words are two of Trump’s favorites, and not arbitrarily. It is almost impossible to find a Trump supporter who doesn’t back him explicitly because of his unflinching, dismissive, even hostile stance against political correctness. “Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Vote Trump!” could be a campaign bumper sticker. Should that not be convincing enough, cinching the case was the recent race-to-the-bottom sparring match between Trump and former GOP hopeful Ted Cruz, over which of them is to be deplored for being “more PC” than the other.

The Politically Correct Left is a cancer, too. It diagnoses societal symptoms far too simplistically and, largely just by calling them bigots, smears anyone who questions their moral pronouncements. Their assessment possesses no more nuance than accusing those on the Right of holding policy positions because they’re bigots: racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, and anything else -phobic or -ist that their imaginations allow. This impolitic attitude and the concomitant name-calling prevent honest discourse about pressing issues, such as immigration policy, health care, and the global concerns orbiting around Islamist terrorism. The Politically Correct Left cannot even hear the need for such conversations, though, over the sound of its bellowing accusations of bigotry. Trump bulldozes their objections and couldn’t care less. Certainly, his policy proposals on these issues are both practically and morally repellent, but democracy demands the national-level conversation he’s forcing.

It must be noted that on almost no topic is the love of Trump’s anti-PC stand more obvious than that of radical Islam’s role in current global affairs. It doesn’t seem to matter in the slightest how clumsily he handles the topic. His supporters still lap it up. Why? The fact that our current political elites—be it for good reasons or bad—are obviously not speaking honestly about the connections between Islam and Islamism is a highly malignant lobe of the PC cancer. Trump’s recommended medicine seems hardly more sophisticated than taking a relatively dull hatchet to the afflicted, but at least he’s calling for an operation.

These are the most egregious cancers eating the American body politic from the inside. Yet there are more. To name just one, campaign finance reform is the closest thing to a topical issue that Trump’s campaigning efforts represents. The billionaire runs not just on a platform of making fun of the dilapidated GOP and PC children but, nominally, on being self-funded. Trump sells himself successfully to his disenfranchised, patriotic base as the very image of campaign finance reform, something they seem not to understand but hate all the more for it. And make no mistake, campaign finance reform is a serious issue that needs serious attention. It is, after all, the same issue that propelled Bernie Sanders to be the darling of the progressive Left. In showing that they are viable, even against big money, Trump and Sanders also prove just how desperately Americans need—and democracy demands—campaign finance reform.

Now — and not even needing the “as liberals” qualifier — we do not want to vote for Trump. However, we have to admit that even the notion of a President Donald J. Trump makes an utter mockery of the foundations upon which these political troubles stand, and so he may actually represent an unpalatable but real chance at destroying these two political cancers of our time and thus remedying our insanity-inflicted democracy.

Trained up on the canvas-covered platforms of professional wrestling rings, Trump does almost nothing better than make a mockery of things, and in this case of the very habits and institutions that have proved most poisonous to American politics this century. He also, like any effective demagogue, commands tremendous public influence, thereby stoking and wielding considerable public opinion against his enemies. Perverse as it sounds, the Trump brand of political mockery might be just what this nation needs most right now.

These problems truly are cancers to our democracy, and a President Trump might be potent, if rough, medicine. There’s little question that his incompetence, inexperience, impetuousness, and incivility would cripple both the effectiveness and reputation of American politics for as long as he held office; and the embarrassment to the American citizens, if it were to elect him, would be almost unbearable. Our relationships with many, if not most, other countries would deteriorate, our economy would struggle (if it didn’t crash outright), and many of our problems would either multiply or fester. Such pains, though, may be the metaphorical equivalent of what chemotherapy does to its unfortunate patients. The question to our minds, then, isn’t whether a Trump presidency would be bad for America—it unquestionably would—but whether America might survive the medicine and come out better for the noxious treatment.

We think it may. The United States is a carefully constructed democratic republic with divided powers, and a terrible president, while coming at a serious cost, will prove limited in the scope of his capabilities. Congress is very unlikely to back much of what Trump proposes, for instance, and they just spent eight years demonstrating that if only half of our elected legislators have such a mind, they can grind American politics largely to a halt. Even if he is able to unduly pressure Congress, Trump would still have the Supreme Court to reckon with, and it would rarely go in his favor even were he able to stack the deck slightly to his favor by placing a few justices. Some in the US Military have already indicated that it is unlikely to follow his orders as Commander in Chief, if they are unconscionable or outright war crimes (a concept that Trump, in all his bluster, clearly doesn’t understand). In all likelihood, the force of the laws and traditions of the United States will be strong enough to render Trump largely impotent as president.

Is it a risky bet? Absolutely. A Trump presidency cannot be seen in a more flattering light than an attempt to drink a little chemo, get sick, and kill a handful of political cancers at once. Is it flirtation with fire? Yes. The whole gambit rests upon the horror of a Trump presidency creating a political backlash that repairs our most damaged institutions. Are we going to vote for Trump? No. No one should. What we’ve written constitutes the only reasonable case for supporting Trump, and it’s weak. That there’s even such an argument to be made, though, tells us a great deal about what’s going wrong in our society.

 

James A. Lindsay holds a Ph.D. in mathematics and is the author of three books, including Everybody Is Wrong About God. Follow him on Twitter: @GodDoesnt.

 

Peter Boghossian is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Portland State University and an affiliated faculty member at Oregon Health Science University in the Division of General Internal Medicine. He is the author of A Manual for Creating Atheists. Follow him on Twitter: @peterboghossian.

Comments
  1. catweazle666 says:

    There’s little question that his incompetence, inexperience, impetuousness, and incivility would cripple both the effectiveness and reputation of American politics for as long as he held office; and the embarrassment to the American citizens, if it were to elect him, would be almost unbearable. Our relationships with many, if not most, other countries would deteriorate, our economy would struggle (if it didn’t crash outright), and many of our problems would either multiply or fester.

    Bollocks.

    Trump is very much more astute and competent than that blinkered pair of Ivory Tower academics give him credit for.

    GO TRUMP 2016!

  2. p.g.sharrow says:

    25 % of the votes FOR Trump are from Democrats that can no longer tolerate the FAR LEFT thrust of those that run that party. Even the Republican Elites are to the left of the American public’s view of the needed body politic. There is no doubt “the Donald” is a con-man, but, he is saying what the people want to say to politicians, Will they listen? or will they continue to follow their own vision of rule.
    The Beast will push forward policies that the rest of the world will find distasteful. This will be the start of the reset from the socialist disasters caused by The Philosophy of More. Get used to the sound of “the Trump Administration”. You will be hearing a lot of it in the next few years.

    The above writers are part of the problem of over educated Elites that have no clue as to the validity of the opinions of the majority of the “Little” people that actually make the nation’s wealth that the Elite feed on. They need us.

    We don’t Need them! …pg

  3. Ken Mitchell says:

    ” The United States is a carefully constructed democratic republic with divided powers, and a terrible president, while coming at a serious cost, will prove limited in the scope of his capabilities.”

    Yes, just like our current “terrible president”. The problem has been that with the support of the left-wing and hyper-partisan press, the Republicans have been too cowardly to do what needed to be done to STOP Obama’s treasonous behavior. If Trump is elected, then all the press that currently supports unconstitutional behavior will turn on a dime to oppose any actions that aren’t entirely kosher.

    Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has been writing for a couple of months now that if you believe in the Constitution and the separation of powers, then Trump is your candidate – because only against Trump will the media act.

  4. Phill says:

    Trump is a genius. The two authors clearly want to vote for him. Their subconscious has been seduced so they tie themselves in circles trying to rationalise their position. Their hearts are saying, “Way to go!” and deep down they hear the drum beat. Clean up this mess. Make deals for our benefit. Don’t sell out our workers. Control our borders. Use our resources to grow the economy….

  5. Fast says:

    Americans grow up listening to hyperbole. It’s part of us. We see right through it. So when we hear Trump’s hyperbole we don’t take it at face value put hear the message I am one of you. I put America and Americans first.
    Americans can sniff out and hate hypocrisy. American politics are rife with it. It’s why Hillary Clinton is as disliked as Trump is vilified. Who will win? I don’t know. But like in Austria, Britain, etc. the wind is strongly blowing in a different direction.

  6. Graeme No.3 says:

    The authors seem inexperienced in politics USA style. Every nomination battle see the Republicans talking to the right and the Democrats leaning to the Left. Once nominated the candidates start to be more moderate, trying to capture the centre. Whether Trump will do so remains to be seen, and even if he doesn’t tone down the rhetoric there is a distinct likelihood that he may do so once in power.

    Their thesis seems to be that US politics is corrupt (hardly news), Hilary will make it worse, and only Trump can cure it. So they have to hold their nose and vote for Trump.
    Actually they have the option of not voting, and pretending like all those who rejected the article that if they close their eyes and put their fingers in their ears that all will go on as before. What they are ignoring is Bernie. How many of his supporters will cross over and support Trump to get change?

  7. Trump and Boris on the world stage, bring on the Benny Hill show theme……

  8. Dodgy geezer says:

    Trump will tend to make America withdraw from a lot of entanglements around the world. And that MUST be good for the world generally. ..

  9. Stephen Richards says:

    I love the pomposity of psychologists. They truly believe they can say for certain what is in a person’s/man’s soul. His beliefs, his understanding, feelings. Then someone comes along and pays them to use their elitism to manipulate the plebs.

  10. Pointman says:

    Trump is strolling to the presidency. He read the public mood much better than the establishment politicians, who seem to represent nobody but their elite class.

    https://thepointman.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/how-to-get-run-over-by-the-trump-juggernaut/

    Pointman

  11. tallbloke says:

    Graeme: “Their thesis seems to be that US politics is corrupt (hardly news), Hilary will make it worse, and only Trump can cure it. So they have to hold their nose and vote for Trump.”

    One of the things I found interesting about the article is that Hillary doesn’t get a single mention.

    Trump is marmite in US politics. This pair of academics clearly don’t like the taste, but at least they recognise and admit some of the reasons he’s doing so well.

  12. SteveB says:

    Interesting what these guys call “far right”…in the US “far right” could not be further from what they call far right.. In the US…the far right would be people who would love to see a strict interpretation of the Constitution…and a very small, unobtrusive government. Those on the far right would best be described as classical liberals…and certainly no such behavior has been evident in Maine politics since before the new deal.

    Perhaps those politicians from Maine could be construed as the far right spectrum of leftist politics, but nothing like actual conservatives who, by definition, favor small government, easing off of needless regulation, and above all freedom.

  13. The authors, one a mathematician and the other a (modern) philosopher (almost a contradiction in terms nowadays), are speaking as “experts” (from their short bios above, they are also both experts on “God” — heigh-yo Silver, boys), hence the condescension dripping from their words, and hence also it is not surprising that they show themselves obviously incompetent to judge ANYTHING. They are themselves part of the Insane Left, as their total disdain for Trump, and their projection of the Left’s own insanity and intransigence upon the Right, most clearly reveals. And of course they didn’t mention Obama either, Tallbloke; that would have made it even more apparent that their position is that of the pot calling the kettle black–or a thoroughly spoiled child crying, “All I did was push him a little (for 8 years), and he hit me!”.

  14. mem says:

    Let me guess, a couple of academics trying to flog their book and make a name for themselves on the back of a Presidential campaign. Yeah, well after reading the article I won’t be purchasing the book.

  15. Tim Hammond says:

    Hmm, a distinct lack of arguments in the responses so far, but an awful lot of ad homs and assertions.

    Strange, thought that we all hated that sort of stuff? Apparently disliking Trump makes you so incompetent that you can’t “judge ANYTHING” (sic).

    Well that’s a pretty stupid statement isn’t it? How does being wrong about Trump make you wrong about everything?

  16. I think the world has seen that Obama has been one of the worst US presidents. The GOP in fact has not done enough to restrain Obama and the socialist Democrats. Free entreprise has been stifled by regulation (such as the EPA) and government interference. US foreign policy under Clinton and Kerry have made the world more dangerous and have been of no benefit to the US. Free Speech is being hampered by politically “correct” (wrong) moral and physical pressure.
    The author of this article has political blinkers around his muddled head. He probably has never been outside the US to see the effects of socialism in failed countries such as USSR (Stalin), east European countries under dictators as in Rumania, East Germany, Hungary, Zimbabwe and Venezuela are recent messes. Cuba and Burma are other examples.
    I know little about Trump but he is unlikely to be worse than Obama and definitely better that Crooked Clinton who would be worse than Obama.

  17. A C Osborn says:

    Trump is dumb enough to be a self made Billionaire.
    He is also a showman.
    Remind us again what Obama and Hilary Clinton bring to the table?

  18. Jason Calley says:

    It has been at least several decades since the US Constitution was seriously followed or obeyed by the government, and for 95% of the population that seems to be no problem. The chance of getting ANYONE to be a responsible politician during a period in which the government has no restraints is effectively zero.

  19. hunter says:

    The clowns for this article are clearly its authors. The monstrous choice for President is sitting in the Oval office today. And clearly the crooked, vain, incompetent choice is the current likely democratic party nominee.

  20. roger says:

    A wind of change is getting up in the free world, hopefully in time to suppress barbaric Islam and it’s adherents.
    Trump in the Whitehouse? Just what is needed.

  21. Paul Vaughan says:

    Does Trump acknowledge that the sun runs Earth’s climate?
    This is the sole criterion by which I will judge him.

  22. catweazle666 says:

    “Does Trump acknowledge that the sun runs Earth’s climate?”

    It seems likely that at least some of his advisors do, and that he himself is not enamoured of the current CAGW hysteria.

  23. tallbloke says:

    I for one don’t share the authors wholly negative view of Trump. I suspect that the bellicose rhetoric he’s whipped up a lot of support with will give way to a more moderate and pragmatic approach when it comes to negotiating deals as president, if he’s elected.

  24. Fast says:

    PV:
    From the Washington post and they despise Trump;
    “In January 2014, he publicly wondered how the United States could be spending money to combat what, in his words, was a “GLOBAL WARMING HOAX.” …….He told The Washington Post editorial board in March that he is “not a great believer in man-made climate change.”

  25. gallopingcamel says:

    As usual Pointman understands what is going on in US politics better than the elites (Bushes and Clintons) who have been running the country for their own benefit for decades.

    The authors of the absurd diatribe above claim that Trump has no coherent policies which is in direct contradiction to reality. For the first time in the last four presidential elections we have a candidate who is offering reforms I (and many other voters) care about.

    For example Trump proposes to enforce US laws with respect to immigration. He proposes to return the control of K-12 education to the local community, something I have been advocating since 1996. Centralizing the control of education makes no sense in a free society:
    http://www.gallopingcamel.info/education.html

    Expect Donald Trump to win in a Reagan style landslide.

  26. gallopingcamel says:

    Presidents since Richard Nixon have been promising to make us less dependent on foreign energy. Trump will take that promise seriously. He will put our miners back to work and “Drill Baby, Drill” until we are a net exporter of fossil fuels.

    Such ideas will create jobs in America and thereby shrink the cancerous tumour of dependence on government handouts.

  27. dennisambler says:

    “President Trump would force the GOP to completely reorganize—and fast. It would compel them to abandon their devastating pitch to the extreme right.”

    I hadn’t noticed that pitch to the right…..

  28. Trump’s vision for the GOP is that it will be the “Worker’s Party”.

    Imagine giving the workers a say in who will rule! If he pulls it off the Democrats will have to re-invent themselves to have any chance in future elections.

  29. Russ Wood says:

    My opinion (from afar) is that Trump is what could be called a ‘fehdreyer’ in Yiddish. And, one has to admit that American politics NEEDS a good stirring up. Why the founders limited themselves to only TWO parties in contention, I’ll never understand!

  30. michael hart says:

    I heard much the same things said about Reagan (in the UK media) before he was elected, and I was certainly no supporter of Reagan at the time. He was supposed to be the guy who would lead us into WW-III and nuclear annihilation. Didn’t happen.

    History showed the media-doomsayers where to get off. That’s usually the way it works, on both sides of the coin.

  31. gallopingcamel says:

    michael hart,
    Let’s hope that Trump is another Reagan but he will need to calm down.

    The GOP establishment hated Reagan almost as much as they hate Trump and for the same reasons. The GOP cannot stand presidential candidates who communicate directly with the American people.

    The GOP learned nothing from Reagan. Let’s hope Trump will send the Carpetbaggers packing so that future presidents will depend on votes rather than corrupt elites funded by the “Donor Class”.

  32. Tenuc says:

    michael hart: at 7:59 pm

    “…same things said about Reagan (in the UK media) before he was elected, and I was certainly no supporter of Reagan at the time. He was supposed to be the guy who would lead us into WW-III and nuclear annihilation. Didn’t happen.”

    Agree. Doesn’t seem to matter who is president, things just seem to carry on as always, with the rich getting richer and the rest of us paying more taxes and losing our freedoms.

    Same thing happens here in the UK and many other countries. It’s as if national leaders are just the fall-guys for those who really make the important decissions. A gibbering baboon would probably be just as useful as Trump or Clinton.

  33. TA says:

    From the article: “The United States is a carefully constructed democratic republic with divided powers, and a terrible president, while coming at a serious cost, will prove limited in the scope of his capabilities.”

    Barack Obama wasn’t limited by Congress. But Trump will not get the same kind of “kid glove” treatment from Congress that Obama got. If Trump steps out of line constitutionally, he will be called to account.

    I don’t think Trump is going to step out of line constitutionally. Trump has criticized Obama for Obama’s illegal, extraconstitutional actions in the past.

    Article: “Congress is very unlikely to back much of what Trump proposes, for instance,”

    Oh, I wouldn’t say that. Trump will propose mainly conservative solutions which a Republican congress can agree with. His current proposals are all conservative, to one degree or another.

    Article: “and they just spent eight years demonstrating that if only half of our elected legislators have such a mind, they can grind American politics largely to a halt.”

    Well, the author is apparently completely blinded to reality. The reality is the Republican congress gave Barack Obama everything he wanted, with the exception of Obamacare (didn’t matter, the Dems had the votes) and one judicial appointment.

    Why do you think we have doubled the national debt under Obama to $20 TRILLION? The only way that could have happened is if the Republicans went along with it. And they did. Every time.

    Obama got no meaningful pushback from this Republican Congress. How many times did they vote to abolish Obamacare? Dozens of times! Meaningless political theater.

    Meanwhile they are signing on to every one of Obama’s budgets, including the ones that have cut the U.S. military to the bone.

    Trump is going to change all this, and he is going to be able to change all this because the People of the United States are demanding it, and they are going to demand it of the Congress, too. The people will get both of them on the same page.

    I’m tempted to take this entire article and rebut every sentence. But I won’t. Unless asked. 🙂

    This article is a good example of the way the Left looks at the world: Through a glass, darkly.

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