What Keeps Donald Trump up at Night?

Is it North Korea?

Is it Russia?

Is it the economy?

Is it the media?

To not have to go through everything that doesn’t keep him up at night, I’ll cut to the chase… its staying President.

It’s no secret that he is obsessed with attempting to prove that he rightfully won in 2016, whether pulling out electoral college maps at the oddest times, insinuating 3 million illegal immigrants all voted against him or Tweeting about Hillary 9 mths into office.  It’s also no secret that he’s never stopped campaigning for 2020, holding more rallies than bills hes passed.  Everything he said and done has had ZERO substance behind it other than what’s exactly on the surface…what his base would think.  His “fire and fury” statement was to show them that he isn’t to be messed with, when that backfired, to save face he blamed China, Japan and South Korea for not doing enough.  Then there was repeal and replace… He must have said this 1000 times while on the trail.  When finally in office repeal and replace was the absolute extent of what he had to say about healthcare…no insight, no x’s and o’s, just ‘someone get something in front of me to sign that repeals and replaces ObamaCare.’  When that backfired, what did he do?  Blame Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and eventually John McCain for turning his back on “the base.” He’s already punted Tax Reform to congress as he travels around the country masquerading like he knows how it works, disguising his true intention, which is campaigning for 2020.  If this fails, he will have accomplished ABSOLUTELY NOTHING his first year in office, but steal a Supreme Court Justice seat, (which he should actually be thanking Mitch for) and pardoning a racist sheriff and he’ll once again have someone to blame other than himself… Most likely pivoting back towards a corrupt “obstructionist” government and rigged system, all of which he is soooo against – More red meat for his headline reading base.

Now here he sits again with DACA…  Not a chance knowing anything about it other than his base hates the thought of it.  One day he announces he’s doing away with it and 800,000 Americans have to go, the next he’s punting it to congress to take the heat off of him.  Again, showing his base that on the surface he’s a man that understands them and is trying his best to fight for their misguided ideals.  All the while putting it in Congress’ hands knowing it will fail with blame loaded in both barrels when it does.

You see, this is all one big campaign to the easily demagogued, weak-minded cheap seats – AKA the people that traditionally get out and vote.  As long as he can continue to punt any meaningful decision to congress or his generals and capitalize on gerrymandered county lines, voter suppression and potential 3rd party influences, this walking headline with zero substance will continue down this path of providing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to the American people, other than one long campaign rally.

People keep saying that all Trump cares about is how he looks to others and to a point they are right, but in this very important instance in U.S history, all he truly cares about is how he looks to his base, period end of story.

 

 

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How Trump is Exacerbating “The Most Honest Three Minutes in TV History”

Its been no mystery that our country has been losing its place in the world in many areas and its been no mystery that the extreme bipartisanship that has taken place the past 8+ years has been the main cause.  The GOP spent 8 years doing any and everything it could to obstruct anything Barack Obama tried to set in motion.  Now its Donald Trump’s turn to do everything he can to reverse whatever progress was made, restructure, rename it and label it his own.

This ramping up of bipartisanship has forced both sides deeper into their respective corners, dividing the U.S even more as the left and right dig in deeper, with no consensus in sight.  When Trump tweets, he tweets at his opponents on behalf of his fan base, when he speaks he speaks directly to his fan base’s ideals, when he hold rallies, its to (feed his ego) and rile up his fan base, nothing less, nothing more.  He is a leader of a fan club at best and leaning on them as he clumsily traverses through his firs year in office.  Nothing he says, does or portrays unifies us as a nation, it only takes us further down this dangerous path of party over country, which over time is UNSUSTAINABLE.  Take a moment and watch this (again for many) and really think…. is Trump just bad for America, or is he the absolute worst thing for America at this given moment?

How Trump is Galvanizing Contempt for America

In Ian Bremmers Book “Superpower” he discusses three options the United States has as a world leader

  1. America can limit its commitments and obligations abroad (“Independent America”).
  2.  Become  a “Moneyball America” that selectively engages in high-yield, low-risk opportunities.
  3. Aim for “Indispensible America” by attempting to uphold the global order through the kind of broad-based global engagement that has typically marked U.S. foreign policy since World War II.

Lets start from the beginning of our “superpower status.” After WWII the U.S was instantly catapulted to the head of the class with a new found roll as – police officer – voice of reason and financier for the world.  This of course put the U.S in a very powerful position of inlfuencer.  By providing financial and or military assistance  the U.S was able to get country’s to adopt its ideals, provide its military additional places in the world to park itself and access to resources throughout the world at a discount – a very mafioso relationship with the world, if you will…

Throughout the years the U.S used this position in the world to grow its influence and ensure its place at the top, all while (secondarily) keeping the peace where it could and punishing where it couldn’t.

For the most part, we were the envy of many, “the shining city upon the hill” as Ronald Reagan so eloquently put it. But over time, with envy there will inevitably come jealousy and as the years went on, many countries that we treated like little brothers aspired for more and slowly started to come into their own.  With our help, countries that were once decimated, rebuilt started to excel in many areas. If it benefited us in some way we encouraged it and if it didn’t we imposed our will to slow or stop it completely. This tactic overtime started to breed contempt, but as long as we were protecting and providing, the contempt always stayed under the surface.

To maintain our position as leader of the world we had to walk a tight diplomatic line of aiding and protecting while maintaining a firm grip around the necks of many nations wanting to breakout – both fairly easy for the richest nation and strongest military in the world.  Slowly but surely after a few mistakes, a few hypocrisies and many advancements, the once little brother countries (many of whom we weren’t aiding, who once looked up to us on that hill, were looking at us eye to eye, even down at us in many ways.

Insert Barack Obama and his combination approach

Become a “Moneyball America” that selectively engages in high-yield, low-risk opportunities.

Aim for “Indispensible America” by attempting to uphold the global order through the kind of broad-based global engagement that has typically marked U.S. foreign policy since World War II.

While inheriting the almost impossible task of digging us out of an economic hole that we hadn’t seen since the great depression, he also had the tough task of re-branding the U.S and its position to the world.  He knew we pushed our influence to the its limits and he knew to many perception is reality, especially in the 24 hour news cycle / digital age. Obama spent much of his two terms taking on a more globalist view of things, unifying countries, with a we not I attitude.  This, at the very least slowed the increase of contempt for the U.S, but of course nothing is perfect and there were a few setbacks that didn’t help his cause, i.e Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks and the debatable drone program. (I’ll leave the debate on whether these were justified or in the long run caused more harm than good).  Either way the perception didn’t look good for the U.S and opened a lot of eyes to just how much inlfuence we had, have and are still looking to gain, BUT to the world, Obama for the most part was trying to work with them, not shun them or just tell them what to do.

To wear all of the hats previously discussed its utterly impossible not to ruffle some feathers, which world leaders know this and accept.  That’s why we generally don’t hear much about spies and spying techniques, cause most know about it and accept it as a necessary evil – But again, perception and what is reality are two very different things –  and the people of the world perception of the U.S hasn’t been in great standing for quite some time, regardless of the relationships Obama was able to cultivate with these leaders.  To some people we were bullies, to others we weren’t very trustworthy and to many we started to become cocky.  To our liberal brothers and sisters, we impose our democratic ways onto other nations, yet our government was far from a well oiled machine. To our conservative counterparts, America breeds a culture of excess, violence, sex, drugs and rock and roll, all while casting judgement on other nations and how they should run their countries. Regardless of the growing contempt and slip ups, Obama was at the very least able to regain some legitimacy and respect throughout the world and people listened when he had something to say…

Obama G20 World Leader

Insert Donald Trump and is “America First” approach

America can limit its commitments and obligations abroad (“Independent America”).

Its already been know that many who once envied our American dream, lavish lifestyles, free spirited culture, have started to slowly and quietly despise it, hence the term “ugly American.” Trump has done that no favors by presenting himself to the world as the caricature of such that: entitled, loud, boorish and ill-informed, the epitome of excess, selfishness and ego.

Lets take the withdrawal from the world climate accord as a for instance  – it wasn’t terribly surprising, but the way he did it was a thumb in the eye to the rest of humanity. Trump didn’t merely state a principled disagreement. He turned the Rose Garden, where many amazing leaders have shaken hands and many major accomplishments have been announced into a setting for a political rally, and he delivered a campaign speech against the world.

“The Paris agreement handicaps the United States economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country’s expense,” ~DT

“The same nations asking us to stay in the agreement are the countries that have collectively cost America trillions of dollars through tough trade practices and in many cases lax contributions to our critical military alliance,” ~DT

“Foreign lobbyists wished to keep our magnificent country tied up and bound down by this agreement. It’s to give their country an economic edge over the United States.” ~DT

It was less a statement of policy than a paranoid scream about devious foreigners scheming to cheat the United States. In reality, Trump was breaking with the whole world — more than 190 other nations that had made numerous concessions to U.S. demands

In foreign affairs, Trump’s undue bullying is breaking down alliances, undermining intelligence, economic, military and diplomatic cooperation, that has taken 50 plus years of walking a very tight rope to maintain.  His portrayal of the ugly American, attacking specific countries and religions, all while outright shunning much of the world is not only surfacing contempt, its breeding it.

Trump sitting alone G20

As we saw at the G20, he was a seemed lost, rambling, campaigning, justifying and leaders didn’t want anything to do with it.

Donald Trump Angela Merkel Frustrated G20

Leaders are no longer hiding their contempt and confusion with what he is trying to accomplish

We still are the richest nation on the world and we will most likely always have the most powerful military (which is a moot point with Nuclear and Cyber capabilities, but that’s for another day) – But as nations slowly look to work around us not with us we strengthen their relationships with each other and focus on THEIR common goals, which over time, under Trump, (its only been 6 mths), could involve putting us in our place…

Trump Racist

 

 

Trump the Trojan Horse of Plutocracy?

Trump Oligarch Russia Democracy Freedom

Sadly, today a great majority of Americans are more satisfied with the appearance of freedom— as though it was a reality—and are more often influenced by those things that seem, rather than by those things that really are.  For many, working long hours and the chance to have a job that doesn’t quite pay enough, or just enough with overtime, is freedom.  Being free to come and go as you please, say or absorb what you want is free, but the one thing many are forgetting are the consequences most face.  Sure we are free to pick up and be artists, drive cross country, pursue our lifelong dreams, but for many (most) this just isn’t a reality.  50% of Americans are working paycheck to paycheck, unless you’re willing to risk starving or relinquishing your home, car or whatever else you have that has you completely handcuffed by debt, you’ll be working your whole life to just get by, accumulating things your marketed to daily to believe that you need, only to pass on this debt to your children.

In today’s society the word freedom is thrown around like its something guaranteed, an afterthought, not up for debate, something we settled a long time ago… “next subject.”  We are Americans, we are free, free to say and do whatever we want.  We feel sorry for other countries who don’t have those “luxuries,” so much so, that we continue to use our power of influence to force them to to adopt our ways of doing things.  Yet, who says our culture and policies are the way it should be?  Lets take a look at where these policies and culture have led us.  We lead the world in incarcerated people per capita, heroin overdoes per capita, gun deaths per capita, mass shootings per capita, cost of medicine, cost of education, wealth inequality, personal and nation debt, all the while ranking  25th  in infrastructure  behind undeveloped nations such as Oman and Barbados.  Are we really the ones that should be teaching others “how things should be?”  Are we as a society really that free?  If we have no voice, no money and most importantly no power to change these things and our so called leaders are puppets to big business, big banks, big oil, big anything, how free are we really?  The people that run these industries and profit from them, disguised in high end suits and hidden away in gated communities have become today’s equivalent to the new slave owner.

How did we get here?

Well let’s take a look at the difference between wealth and power? To avoid confusion, let’s be sure we understand they are two different issues, but one cant exist without the other.

  • Wealth, refers to the value of everything people own.
  • Power, has to do with the ability to realize wishes, or reach goals, which amounts to the same thing, even in the face of opposition.

First, wealth can be seen as a “resource” that is very useful in exercising power. That’s obvious when we think of donations to political parties, payments to lobbyists, and grants to experts who are employed to think up new policies beneficial to the wealthy. Wealth also can be useful in shaping the general social environment to the benefit of the wealthy, whether through hiring public relations firms, owning ALL of the media companies, marketing firms or having large stake ownership in certain businesses or industries.

Second, and VERY important to understand…certain kinds of wealth, such as stock ownership, can be used to control corporations, which of course have a major impact on how the society functions. The top 20% make up 91% of stock ownership in the United States, no further explanation needed there.

Third, just as wealth can lead to power, so too can power lead to wealth. Those who control a government can use their position to further their own interests, whether that means a favorable land deal for relatives at the local level or a huge federal government contract for a new corporation run by friends who will hire you when you leave government.

This brings me to the the point I want to make. If the top 20% have 84% of the wealth, (which we concluded encompasses tremendous amount of power and influence) it becomes very tough for the bottom 80% — moreover the bottom 90% — to get organized and exercise much power to make the changes necessary that actually benefit the masses.  When 90% of society’s interests aren’t being addressed and even worse being purposely ignored to benefit a very little, we have to make the assumption that we are not truly free, nor are we in a true democracy, but a Plutocracy.

Plutocracy – From Greek ploutos, meaning “wealth”, and kratos, meaning “power, dominion, rule”) is a form of oligarchy and defines a society ruled or controlled by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens.

Now, here is where I speak to the left, right indifferent.  We may have many different ideals and some that we will NEVER come to agreement on, but one that we must come together on if we are every going to get back to “Country Over Party.”

The one thing that approximately 90% of shar –– we have zero control over of the policies put in place by the plutocrats to strengthen and lengthen their grip over us.  The sooner we realize that, the better off America will be in the long run.

Look at it this way…

We are teams, we are debating and battling each other daily, but the league we love and play for is under attack by a higher power.  Now more than ever is the time to put our small battle aside for a greater cause, US.

Our options…

Do you think Trump an ELITE and Republican (today) is going to upset the system and tackle the people he works and mingles with daily?  DO you think he is our saving grace? Or was it supposed to be a career Democrat who accepts millions in contributions from big business regardless of the rhetoric on the campaign trail and no matter how you spin will have favors to return?

OR do we need an uprising of sorts, someone who is not a part of the system, someone not connected or influenced by wealth or power, someone who is truly interested in strengthening an entire nation, not just a fraction of it?

I think, as crazy as this sounds, we were somewhat on the right track with Trump, even (righter with Bernie)…. follow me here before you stop reading, slam your laptop shut and call me nuts.

Many bought into Trump’s outsider roll, that he wasn’t a career politician, that he was just as sick of government not helping the masses – BUT most forgot or willfully accepted that he was an elite and didn’t care because he tapped into their deepest fears and closeted hate?

Millions took to Bernie, because “he isn’t one of them” either and spoke to exactly what was wrong with big business and the anti-90% policies that benefit the very few.  His problem was he up against BILLIONS of dollars of marketing, incumbent democrats and was so easy to brush off as someone who only spoke in rainbows and unicorns.

They both tapped into the need for an outsider, but the big difference –– one had the money and the friends (potentially friends in REAL high places) and the other had the ear of the millennials, who make a big stink, but lack the follow through (for now).  I wont dance around the fact that there was a tremendous amount of demagoguery that put Trump over the top, but that’s for another day…

The focus of this piece is getting to the bottom of the issue we ALL face, unifying people and making them understand that’s its not Republican vs. Democrat, its us vs them.  The us being the 90% of us who work day in and day out, crippled by debt and are one stroke away from going bankrupt.  The them being the the Plutocrats that control everything we see, hear and do all to their benefit. If we want decisions made that truly effect our day to day lives in a positive way, if we truly want to be a free society, we need to get to this place and get there fast.

Remember…

We are in an information war and unfortunately the wealthy and the powerful control much of where people get their information from,  Whether it be the 24 hours news cycle, social media (campaigns, bots, hacking) or multi-million dollar ad campaigns.  If we as a whole continue to rely on them for our information, we will continuously be led to vote for THEIR agendas and not for whats truly best for the people and country as a whole.  We need to get back to the facts, the data, historical mistakes and triumphs, trends and reality, if you will.  We need to trust, but verify, we need to not let our politicians glaze over questions, but drill down to the root, the whys, hows and plans.  Then we need to take this information analyze if for ourselves, see if it fits our agenda and MAKE INFORMED DECISIONS.  Finally when in office, we need to hold them accountable, remind them daily on what they committed to and what we need as a nation.

Now I ask…is this what democracy was supposed to look like when it was originally designed? Are we truly as free as we are led to believe?  And most importantly do you still think we should be a country divided by ideals and debatable differences or divided by 99% / 1%, the haves and have nots…

I leave with this…  Always be asking yourself what benefits a Plutocracy and what benefits the people?

Gandhi Greed 99% 1% Wealth inequality Trump

Was War Trump’s Plan All Along?

Trump North Korea Armada Nuclear War

I cant imagine Trump is a historian or a philosopher behind closed doors, but I have to wonder if his “advisors/puppet masters” had a larger more grandiose plan to “Make America Great Again” that involves…..ready?  WAR.

There are two was of looking how war plays into Trump’s agenda.

  1. Were they prepared for such blow back and new once it hit fever pitch that imminent war would unify the country behind Trump?
  2. Knowing what a major war can do for a country and knowing we would eventually have a crisis on our hands, was war baked into the “making America Great Again” agenda?

 

Avenue A – War will unify our country

Our country has always been divided by many things, ideals, religion, race, class even the state you were born differentiated you, i.e the labels “Yankee” and Redneck.”  In the past we were able to put these differences aside for the great cause.  Under threat, labels went away and we all became Americans.  In so many cases this is always the case.  Take sports for example  –– Football players are out to destroy each other week in and week out, but if their league comes under attack, the worst of rivals can come together for the greater cause, their league for which  that they all have equal love and loyalty to.

Would this still be the case for Americans today?  I would like to think so, but more and more I am becoming a skeptic.  As I wrote in my last article, the 24 hours news cycle, unregulated social media and constant divisive rhetoric from Trump is pushing people further and further in their respective left and right corners.  Are we becoming so divided that regardless of what sort of threat our country is under, we wouldn’t be able to come together as in years past? To be clear –– I am talking about a war / conflict / assault on our country that puts us and our nation at risk, not a politically charged war like Vietnam or Iraq.  Would it become a blame game and a never ending debate on two VERY different strategies on how we should handle the issue.  We have a segment of the country that believes Trump is the messiah and what he says and does is gold.  We also have a segment that thinks he is dramatically unqualified and a danger to our nation. Not sure how that would play out under dire circumstances.

Now I want you to get real with your thoughts and you don’t have to say this out, but take a moment and think about if  a”right wing nut job” or a “snowflake Libtard” were both in harms way and you could save one easy or save both, but potentially putting yourself in harms way…  That thought is your own, but I think it may drive home how bad the divide has gotten.  This applies in so many areas –– What if the 1% were labeled forced to be identified, how would they be treated when seen in public?  What if hard line Black Lives Matters folks were asked to storm a town to rescue a group of police officers?  Again, all of these hypotheticals are just to stimulate thought, not galvanize an ideal.

Avenue B – War was baked in to the equation the whole time:

Knowing all of the hot spots we have in the world, many currently on pause or slowed down from their goal of becoming a force to be reckoned with, Trump and his team had to know that a war wasn’t just possible, but likely.  As we have seen in the past,  wars that threaten our very existence brings our country together, manufacturing increases, jobs come home and increase and we (by necessity, pride and survival), revert back to a Nationalist society –– which, if I had to guess is Trump et al’s vision of MAGA.  I mean look at some of these staggering numbers from after WWII:

Of course this was all done with the government increasing their defense spending by 6 fold and at $661 Billion, that’s just not plausible today, but who’s to say that Trump and team have even thought that far?

Regardless the Avenue, a warning to Americans:

War is not a get out of jail free card, Especially today when all it takes is one miscalculation.  For some, war has become a punch line to an anti-Trump Tweet, but I don’t think Americans grasp how close we are and how much different it would be for us this time around.

Americans once had an appreciation for tragedy and its effects. Americans once felt the healthy fear that we aren’t invincible, our country isn’t untouchable.  After World War II, Americans understood how catastrophic a breakdown of world order could be, and they were constantly reminded by the looming Soviet threat that international stability and peace could not be taken for granted. Learning this –– over a period of decades, the United States undertook an unprecedented geopolitical effort ensuring world order did not collapse once again. The result was a postwar international system that was never perfect, but one in which aggressors were contained and ultimately defeated, democracy spread more widely than ever before and American prosperity reaching dizzying heights.  This awakening of tragic sensibility propelled Americans to do amazing things…..BUT, as it has been said before, Americans are serial amnesiacs. And today, after more than 70 years of great-power peace and a quarter-century of unrivaled global supremacy, Americans have lost their sense of tragedy, taking their peace and continued role as world leader for granted. They have forgotten what that world order that took decades to put in place is designed to prevent. And this amnesia has become most pronounced, as American power and international order are under attack with Donald Trump’s isolationist agenda.  Today, the United States and the world are courting tragedy — precisely because Americans have lost their ability to imagine what tragedy really is and are lead by someone who is not only embracing it, but almost willing it to happen.

After World War II, American leaders concluded that failure to stand up for friendly nations in the face of external aggression, failure to speak up on behalf of democratic values under assault, failure to prevent a trade war born of or sparked by protectionism, and failure to support international organizations by withdrawing American support produced a world with a leadership vacuum and an invitation of chaos –– Sound familiar??

What we now think of as the brilliantly successful postwar international order was a response to the repeated tragedies that had preceded it — and the menace of an expansionist, Soviet Union reminded Americans that tragedy could all too easily recur if the United States pursued a any other path…

As of today 57 percent Americans think we need to mind our own business, when it comes to other nations problems. This is some of the most anti-globalsim that we have seen since the years immediately following the Vietnam War, and it reflects a growing sense that Americans are no longer so eager to bear the burdens traditionally associated with global leadership, which is hard to blame them, but at the same time, as stated above, is a result of a generation dying off and many never facing tragedy or completely forgetting its effects.  As great as winning WWII was for our country it also put us in a position from which we could never stray from, global leader.  Which, as scary as it sounds is exactly what we are doing today.

Donald Trump has repeatedly characterized America’s alliances and other commitments as sucker bets that allow other countries to make a killing at Washington’s expense; he has revived the language, and even proposed reviving some of the policies, associated with the “America First” program of the 1930s!!

There is, particularly in Trump’s worldview, no tragic sensibility to be found here — no recognition that the Global system and the United States itself, has avoided tragedy and made so much progress over the past seven decades only because America has labored so diligently to make it so. And there is no recognition that attacks on free trade, admiration for autocratic leaders, and questioning of U.S. alliances threaten to undo these very accomplishments, in-turn opening our country back up to a tragedy that we have so easily or arrogantly forgotten are possible.

If Americans have grown tired of bearing the burdens of international leadership, it is probably because they have simply forgotten why that leadership is worth bearing in the first place. Why do we have troops and military hardware stationed around the globe? Why do we have an extensive system of alliances the world over? Why do we worry so much about what happens in faraway places like Ukraine or the South China Sea? Why do we pursue free trade even when it sometimes comes at a near-term cost to certain industries and workers in the United States? There are, of course, good historical answers to all of these questions, and they all come back to the very nasty things that tended to happen to the international system before the United States took up its role as the Global police officer. Most of the country has forgotten this history and we have an Administration, who normally would remind us of why we do what we do around the world, its benefits and of course, consequences if not.  The simple passage of time, but more precisely, the successes of America have made it very easy to forget.

The darkening horizon

The irony is that this amnesia is afflicting us precisely as the international environment is once again becoming more threatening. In East Asia and Eastern Europe, revisionist authoritarian powers are coercing their neighbors and nibbling away at the international order. Chinese leaders are laying plans for a Sino-centric Asia, and Russian leaders are talking about the transition to a “post-West” world: It is hard to see how either transition can be accomplished without coercion and violence. In the Middle East, Iran is asserting its regional ambitious, Bashar al-Assad is perpetrating a slow-motion genocide, and the Islamic State and other jihadi groups continue to wreak havoc even as their military fortunes decline. North Korea is racing ahead with its nuclear and missile programs in defiance of the international community, posing an ever greater threat not simply to its neighbors but to the United States as well. And across these various regions and issues, the rules that seemed to have gained such global dominance in the wake of the Cold War are increasingly being challenged and transgressed. Nonaggression and the peaceful resolution of disputes, the ability of countries to choose their economic and geopolitical alignments free from intimidation or coercion, freedom of navigation in the world’s key waterways — all of these norms are being tested more severely today than at any time in decades.

The threats today are diverse, but they do share a common theme. They represent the warning lights flashing on the dashboard; they are indications that an international system that has long been so historically exceptional in its effectiveness and stability is now fraying at the edges. The revival of great-power competition is back and very much a reality.  America could be making the same mistake EVERY major empire that has ruled and eventually fallen has made… “it cant happen to us, we’re (insert empire), America, Rome…”

Henry Kissinger observed that “in the long interval of peace the sense of the tragic was lost; it was forgotten that states could die, that upheavals could be irretrievable.” Today, Americans are likely to end up rediscovering their sense of the tragic one way or another — either by reacquainting themselves with the tragic sensibility that they seem to have lost or by experiencing the real-world tragedy that their amnesia, if not corrected, may help bring about. I for one am hoping for the awakening, before the lesson…

 

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

 

 

Has Trump Exposed The “Dumb” Voter?

Plato Tyranny Naturally arises out of Democracy

Plato’s Republic – “Tyranny will be established out of no other regime than democracy”

The question / questions many are asking, “How did we get here?” “How is this normal?”

So, how did we get here?  Why are so many normalizing the not normal? What has changed over the past 8 to 12 years, that has gotten us to this point?

  1. Was there truly a “white lash” as Van Jones stated?  Were so many closet and not so closeted bigots frustrated for so long that we had a black president?
  2. Were people finally fed-up with the government and disenfranchised to the point that ANY outsider would do?
  3. Is our country changing so rapidly that the career politicians are so disconnected they can’t keep up with their peoples wants and needs.
  4. Or is it the fact that our country has become less informed with costlier and costlier education, profit driven 24 hour news cycles, unregulated social media, shorter more controversial headlines, less facts, all galvanizing and pushing positions further left and right?

Considering how extreme the shift from from our first black president, (accused socialist) Barack Obama to a self admitted misogynist, reality TV star and failed businessman 20x over, Donald Trump, its easy to say its one of, or a combination of the first three and I’m sure they contributed, but I’m going to focus on the latter for now.

To really diagnose this shift I started to look into what people were voting on and why they felt the way they did about said issues. Then I looked into that state of affairs for each, factually and unbiased, compared to how they were being portrayed by the media and candidates.

There are two very distinct ways to present the issues that concern Americans today:

  1. Present the current state and projected state as it truly is with facts and detailed policy ideas with projections based on both.  Present how you will fix or extend the progress of said issue to people in a calm, composed professional manner. (“Yawn”)
  2. The other…tap into peoples natural emotions whether it be fear and the dangers of consequences or hope and the power of the possible…doing this with energy and enthusiasm.  Either way (“Turn the TV up!”)

One provides details, direction and a game plan the other elicits an emotion that drives people to want more.

  • Obama ran on hope and the power of the possible using charisma and a vision of change.  WON
  • Hillary ran on the current state, projected state and detailed policy ideas.  LOST
  • Trump ran on fear, hate, blame and consequences, regardless if they were based on anything remotely true.  WON

Looking at the results, it seems like the informed, data, fact based campaign is under attack. So lets lets dig deeper and try to understand why…

Terrorism for example, THE single biggest issue Trump ran on and a big issue to many today.  BUT… Are the reasons justified?  Terrorism has been an issue since the dawn of our country.  Why has it moved so far ahead of any other issues we face today?  For example – between 1969 and 1989 the airline industry averaged 31 hijackings a year…That’s almost 1 a week for 20 years!  Yet, now with 24 hour news, social media, smart phones and YouTube, you would think we are in the worst age of terrorism we’ve ever faced, even if boring facts show that you’re more likely to die being crushed to death by furniture.  Meanwhile, in the time it has taken you to read until this point, at least one American has died from a heart attack. Within the hour, a fellow citizen will have died from skin cancer. Roughly five minutes after that, a military veteran will commit suicide. And by the time you turn the lights off to sleep this evening, somewhere around 100 Americans will have died throughout the day in vehicular accidents – A Princeton University study observed that even in countries that have been targets of intensive terror campaigns, such as Israel, the weekly number of casualties almost never close to the number of traffic deaths. So why all the fear?  The answer is easy – basic human psychology.  Scholars have repeatedly found that individuals have strong tendencies to miscalculate risk in very predictable ways. For instance when people lose the sense of control, it directly influences their feeling about whether they are susceptible to a given risk. How many people do you know (possibly yourself) that are petrified of flying even though they know driving is way more dangerous? This is because flying involves giving up control, resulting in a sense of vulnerability.  Sorry to bore you with more facts and details, so I’ll get back to the crux of the subject…  Now that we understand how peoples brains work and how easy it is to spark irrational fear, lets see what adding the 24 hour news cycle, unregulated Social Media and the rapid technological and culture shift we are facing today does.

The 24 hour news cycle NEEDS to keep your attention or they will lose ratings (Money).  Social Media NEEDS to keep your attention or they will lose users (Money).  Technology provides this ever lowering bar of information in real time in the palm of your hand.  All of this creating shorter attention spans, with an increasing need and want for more, more violence, sex, scandal.  Ever wonder why or notice after the first fully televised murder scandal (OJ), the dawn of and eventual explosion or reality TV?  Now its to the point people watch other people live, just living their lives. People tune in weekly to watch, waiting and hoping for something scandalous to happen, i.e The Kardashians.  Don’t even get me started on my conspiracy theory on the connection of those two…

NOW lets take all of the above and add in The Law (not theory mind you) of Diminishing Returns and you have an almost impossible battle between reality and fact going forward….

Law of Diminishing Returns –  The core of our being is response to stimulus. You have a life experience and you are either filled or drained (positive or negative experiences). The books you are reading give you a path to a filling experience, but they do not tell you the law of diminishing returns. Ask any crack addict, alcoholic, or sex addict. They will tell you that each time they get their stimulus it is not nearly as good as the last time, and NEVER as good as the first time. The same can be said for every experience in life. Coffee, sugar, Mountain Dew, sex, drugs, and even rock and roll give you less and less of a filling experience the more you use them.

This evolution has opened the door for a master manipulator like Trump to come flying in and spew fear, hate, blame to the scandal thirsty, easily scared masses… Making it almost impossible for anyone slinging facts and detailed policy ideas to succeed. Especially against an opportunist demagogue who knows how to exploit the emotion and profit driven news media, as we saw with Hillary in the 2016 election.

Do future candidates need to rethink their approach? Are celebrities like The Rock and Oprah what the country needs next to counter the Trump phenomenon?  Or does this open us up to the least qualified, most manipulative, most entertaining candidates and not truly what benefits the people the most?  Are we headed towards a popularity contest, based on a technological and culture shift, resulting in increasingly distancing and galvanizing ideals?

Or has Democracy hit a ceiling and we need to start focusing our attention on the voter instead of the candidate? In reality a successful Democracy is only as effective as the education that surrounds it. Are we putting too much trust into the hands of the unqualified and the uninformed?  We are a generation with the easiest access to the most information in history and yet somehow we are becoming the least informed.

This leads us back to Plato and his philosophy on intellectual democracy v. democracy by birthright.  We have given the vote to all without connecting any of it to wisdom and what wisdom we do have, is fading.  Therefore, kicking open the door for demagoguery and easy answers. i.e Donald Trump . Lets look at it this way:  If given the opportunity would you give 1000 random people who know nothing about flying choose your pilot from 2 candidates, only one of which is truly qualified?  Then why do we give so many, who know nothing about politics, other than what they read on Facebook, the power to pick the person to lead our country and world for that matter??

Democracy was originally designed to maximize two things, equality and freedom, everyone should be treated as equal and everyone should be able to do whatever he or she likes within reason.  There’s a problem with that though, overtime freedoms multiply, inequalities grow and information becomes diluted. As we sit here today the glaring inequality 99% of us face is with the wealthy and elite.  They have now become the prime suspects of perpetuating inequality, representing injustice and controlling our information, with their vicious cycle of money buying power, power making money and the combination controlling the masses. This is where Plato’s Republic gets scary accurate…

Plato discussed, its at this point in a Democracy that the door opens for a would be Tyrant to seize their moment. Plato also wrote that ‘the Tyrant will be of the elite, but will act like the masses — giving into random pleasures and whims, feasting on plenty of food and sex, reveling in and taking advantage of the freedoms democracy has provided. This Tyrant will make his move by taking over a particularly obedient mob and attacking his wealthy peers as corrupt. If not stopped quickly, his appetite for attacking the rich on behalf of the people swells further. He is a traitor to his class — and soon, his elite enemies, shorn of popular legitimacy, find a way to appease him or are forced to flee. Eventually, he stands alone, promising to cut through the paralysis of democratic incoherence. It’s as if he were offering the addled, distracted, and self-indulgent citizens a kind of relief from democracy’s endless choices and insecurities. He rides a backlash to excess—too much freedom seems to change into nothing but too much slavery — and offers himself as the personified answer to the internal conflicts of the democratic mess. He pledges, above all, to take on the increasingly despised elites. And as the people thrill to him as a kind of solution, democracy willingly, even impetuously, repeals itself…”

Donald Trump Demagogue

Plato’s Republic – “No one who hasn’t proven they have thought rationally and deeply should be let near a vote”

If Plato is correct, which as of right now, it’s hard to question someone who wrote exactly what is happening…right now, 1600 years ago.  If he is though, are we at a tipping point?  Is there even anything we can do or is this bigger than us? Do the freedoms we have now contribute to the recipe of greed, technology and human nature that ironically will lead to the eventual erosion of these freedoms?  Or will there be a revolution against the profit driven news cycle, the click driven social media and most importantly those who exploit it all with demagoguery and unjustified fear driven propaganda?  I still have hope for the latter…

Plato One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being goverened by inferiors Plato