December 1st, 2016

Me 2

Trump and Tribalism

I remain fascinated, in a "wow look at that train-wreck!" sort of way at the people who seem to think Donald Trump will make an okay President. (Paging Scott Adams, Scott Adams, please pick up a white courtesy telephone.) Now, to be clear, I hope he is okay, or even better-than okay, because he is in fact my President. I'm just not convinced that will happen.

This article compares Trump to Mr. "Bunga-Bunga" himself, Silvio Berlusconi. Since both were wealthy real-estate developers who'd branched into TV and took over their country's center-right political party, I thought the parallel was apt. So, why do so many of Trump's supporters seem unable to see his many failings?

The tl;dr answer is: " their enthusiasm for Trump doesn’t necessarily reflect a misperception that he is honest or that he will eschew greed and corruption. Rather, their view is that he is on their side and that the protestations of his opponents merely reflect the self-interested defensiveness of the establishment. Highlighting themes of racial and ethnic conflict as central to American politics further feeds this dynamic. Trump may be a sonofabitch, the thinking goes, but at least he’s our sonofabitch. (emphasis in original)

In short, tribalism. And as the article goes on, attacking Trump because of ethics won't work. The tribe that voted for Trump thinks everybody is corrupt, and that their choice is who the corrupt person is working for. What (hopefully) will work is attacking what Trump does. Repealing Medicare, kicking millions out of the coverage they have in Obamacare, banning abortion - these are the policies that Trump (at the moment) appears to be implementing. They are largely unpopular, even among the rural whites who are the core Trump voter.

Moving back for a moment to Mr. Adams. He seems convinced that Trump will allow "facts to influence [him] when they do matter." This strikes me as a variation of "if only the king knew" - the idea that Mr. Master Persuader will "pivot." There is no evidence of this happening; but then Mr. Adams is of the opinion that facts and evidence no longer matter.
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