Thursday, March 10, 2016

Keeping it “Real”

In the end, though, the Carrier story was pretty simple: Trump said he would call Carrier’s CEO up on day one and tell him that every unit the company sent to the U.S. would be slapped with a 35 percent tariff. His rivals couldn’t do that because they were bought off by campaign donations, he added. Within 24 hours, Trump was certain the CEO would call back and announce the company would return to the U.S. Never mind establishment conservatives who say protectionism is wrong. [...] Never mind the fact that the president cannot unilaterally impose tariffs, as reporters have been noting for months. The crowd loved it. Policy is beside the point: Trump’s fans love his brash manner of speaking, which they call telling it like it is—even in cases like the tariffs, where Trump is telling it like it could never be.
David A. Graham “The Lurking Menace of a Trump Rally
I quote this passage at length, because it illustrates for me one of the central themes of this election cycle. It’s one that I don’t think that very many people were aware of a year ago, despite the fact that it’s been a looming presence. And I think that both the Trump and Sanders campaigns have tapped into it. (Which may be the reason why you sometimes encounter people who feel that both candidates represent their interests.)

There is a segment of the American public, and quite a large one, judging by election returns and rally attendance, who believe what many would label as “political realism” is, in reality, a hateful, but flimsy, fraud perpetrated against them by a cabal of wealthy elites and their servitor politicians. And because these policies only remain in place because they suit the purposes of those who benefit from them, undoing them is not a difficult task to be undertaken by Congress and enacted through the passage of new law. Instead, all it takes is the stroke of a savior-President’s pen, or a phone call to the right person telling them that the jig is up.

Therefore, as an acquaintance said to me today, President Obama did not fail to make life markedly better for the majority of the American public because he had to deal with a Congress that they acknowledged as obstructionist, but because he was unwilling to make the required effort to stand up for the little guy and strongarm his policies into place.

I do not have a conspiratorial mindset. The world as I understand it is complex and kludgy, and it took us decades to get into this mess, and it will take us just as long to walk it back, short a catastrophe, war or armed insurrection. But then again, I do not believe in Evil, either, and perhaps that’s why I can only see long and difficult roads where others see a short and sunny path back to a misremembered past.

No comments: