Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Donald Trump and the stress testing of the American system of government 19

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on June 26, 2017

This is my 24th installment to what has become an ongoing series of postings in which I seek to address politics in the United States as it has become, starting with the nominations process leading up to the 2016 presidential elections (see Social Networking and Business 2, posting 244 and loosely following.) And this is also my 19th installment here since the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.

And this is an installment to this series that is essentially guaranteed to at least partly displease essentially everyone and for at least something in it. That is because my goal here is to acknowledge and address a range of observations and conclusions that I have come to see as truths, that include elements that would not all, collectively please anyone. (To clarify that, when I say “truths,” I mean “fact-based” facts and not “alternative” facts, to use the current idiom.)

Let me begin with some details that would please those who are more liberal and progressive politically, but irritate those who see themselves as being on the right, politically:

• I have been writing this series in large part as a presentation of and discussion of findings that hold significant potential for shortening the presidential administration of Donald Trump if formally proven, and either from his removal from office for mental incapacity, or for his removal from office through an impeachment process. And this assertion certainly holds for the installments that I have added to this series since Trump’s inauguration into office and his becoming the acting executive branch head of the government of the United States.
• And I have come to the conclusion that his ongoing behavior and all that it is built upon will all but certainly lead to a constitutional crisis and his removal from office through mechanisms offered in one or the other of the US Constitution’s 25th Amendment, or its Article 2, Section 4 (removal due to incapacitation or through impeachment respectively.)
• And I have not just asserted this view in this series as an unsupported conclusion. I have systematically shared my thought processes that would lead up to it here, and documenting references that have led me to arrive at it.
• I have also addressed this overall conclusion at least, in recent installments to a concurrently running series on China and the government of Xi Jinping there, as president Trump and his statements and actions have impacted upon China and their policies and actions too (see Macroeconomics and Business and Page 2 to that directory, postings 154 and loosely following for that series.) And see in particular its Part 46 installment in this context, for its particular cogency to this posting’s discussion.

That and the flow of material that I cite in those postings would displease the political Right, and particularly Donald Trump’s core supporters. But now let’s consider the earliest postings to my American politics-oriented series that this fits into, and particularly its Part 1. I laid a foundation there for displeasing any readers on the Left politically too, when I first started addressing the challenges we face in current American, and I add current global politics as well. Let me start with the perhaps “unpleasant truth” bottom line that I arrive at for this side of this narrative, here starting with the points I just made:

• Yes, I in fact do firmly believe that Donald Trump will be removed from office, and most probably within his first term of office, and by the constitutional means just noted in passing above. But no, this is not going to happen soon. It would take real, concerted effort on president Trump’s part to cause this to happen before the 2018 off-year US congressional elections. And this will only happen even then, if the Democratic Party takes control of both the House and the Senate, and as such control of their legislative agendas.
• And as much as a significant number of current members of Congress, and I add a numerical majority of Americans seem to disfavor Trump’s presidency and at least in significant part, they are factionally divided in ways that Trump’s core supporters are not. And not everyone who is dissatisfied with Trump’s performance in office is ready to impeach him or ready to support that being done anyway.
• Donald Trump has only been in office for some 150 days as of this writing, and a significant fraction of Americans are still willing to give him more time. But more importantly here, a solid core group that accounts for some 30% of the entire American public, actively supports Donald Trump and believes in him and will continue to do so, and seemingly no matter what the mainstream news media or any other publically visible and vocal detractors might say. This brings me directly back to that Part 1 posting: “Thinking Through the Words We Use in Our Political Monologs,” and how the American public has become fractured into hyper-partisan groups that do not and seemingly cannot communicate with each other across the divides between them.
• When Trump administration spokespersons speak of “alternative facts” to justify their positions and their understanding of reality, this is what they are at least tacitly acknowledging, that differing demographics, each caught up in their own echo chamber bubbles: their own epistemic bubbles, share and hold to their own views of reality and their own “truths.” And this includes their own acceptance or denial of scientific findings as well as their acceptance or denial of more social science framed political “truths.”
• And the 30% who support Trump 100% and on seemingly everything, all the time do go to the polls to vote and in a very unified manner, and even as their “un-Trump” and “anti-Trump” competitors argue among themselves and sit at home when the polls are open and they could have a say in matters.

Donald Trump is almost certainly the single worst president of the United States who has ever served in office: the bottom of the barrel worst in history. And he makes all others who have served in office before him look good, or at least a lot better by comparison, including the likes of Warren G Harding and James Buchanan: two former presidents who have up to now successfully competed for the titles of worst and second worst ever. Seek out a consensus opinion on this from any significantly inclusive group of professionally respected American history scholars, and without regard to their personal political views, right, left or center now; you will hear this assessment from them. But 30 % of the entire American public does not and will not believe any of that. I know a few people in that camp; they are not bad people and they are not stupid, by any means. They are for the most part simply burned out by the seemingly endless venality and cynicism of politics as usual in the United States, and by both Democrats and by Republicans in office. It is just that they do tend to see Republicans as being at least a somewhat better choice for elected office, at least usually. And they do live and breathe in their own particular “alternative” view of reality and their own collective bubble that supports and sustains it – just as their Liberal and Progressive counterparts do in theirs too.

And this brings me to an in the news reality check on the schism that I write of here: the chasm of opinion and perception, judgment and conclusion that I write of here. Trump is a disaster in office and he is aided and abetted in this by Republican members of Congress who would do seemingly anything to stay in power and regardless of consequences. And Trump is now consistently polling well below 50% in the positives, in national public opinion surveys. So when a quick succession of special elections have come up since the Trump election to fill vacancies in Congress, those seats were there for the taking by Democratic Party contenders, right? But no, the Democratic Party and their contenders have lost every single one of these races and without exception. And this brings me to a recent in the news reality check offering, which I share in this posting here, by way of two recent newspaper articles:

Karen Handel Wins Georgia Special Election, Fending Off Upstart Democrat, and
Democrats Seethe After Georgia Loss: ‘Our Brand Is Worse Than Trump’.

I seriously doubt that many if any elected Democrats and certainly those in significant positions of power, believe that their “brand” is worse, and certainly if that means their seriously questioning the underlying message that it seeks to represent. But it really, really is.

• Donald Trump is certain to be removed from office, as just stridently asserted above. But if the Democrats as a Party keep going the way that they have been, that might not happen in this reality – just in their “alternative” one.

What can the Democratic Party do to turn things around for themselves, besides hope that president Trump will start to implode effectively enough as a president to discourage even his core 30%, as well as a majority of the “let’s give him more time” people? I am not presumptuous enough to try to map out a full answer to that, but I would offer two first steps, neither of which would be comfortable or easy for them:

• They have to start listening, and I mean really listening to the people who support Trump and his vision of America and of American values. And they need to do so with a simple sounding question firmly in mind. What are the legitimate concerns and even the legitimate grievances that these people hold that the Democratic Party and its elected officials have not addressed, or even acknowledged? That means assuming that the vast majority of those who support Trump are good people who in some genuine sense feel left out and even betrayed by the powers that be, and that the issues that drive them to support this outsider, are legitimate and should be more positively acknowledged – by the Democratic Party.
• And then comes the really hard part. The leadership of the Democratic Party has to admit that it could and should have done better and its members have to actively enter into conversations with those who would start out at least suspicious and angry toward them. And that means listening and asking questions, and seeking to find common ground and agreeing that there are genuine issues that need to be addressed. I am not, I stress, writing here about accepting the current Republican Party fiscal or other ideology; I am writing about reaching out to the man and woman in the street, and to everyday fellow citizens. And they have to do this while more actively reaching out to and listening to their own divisively divided membership too; the Democratic Party has to actually become the big tent, inclusive political party that they still claim to be, and one that is both inclusive for its diversity – and unified in support of its underlying shared values.

And this brings me back to the first set of bullet points that I added towards the top of this posting. True or not, and valid or not, those points and their message do not matter, as long as the politicians and elected officials who would actually take action in response to Trump’s behavior, are caught up in their own blinding epistemic bubbles too. Yes, I have labeled this progression of now 19 postings in this series: “Donald Trump and the stress testing of the American system of government.” And he is stress testing everything he touches. But nothing will happen from that if any remediation to it has to come essentially entirely from Trump himself and his administration, or from some combination of them and their Republican Party supporters and backers.

There are a variety of other issues relevant to this series that I have held off on including in this series installment, to keep its focus as simple and direct as possible. I end its discussion here and now but I am certain to come back to this narrative and to this series in future installments too, as there is a lot more to say in it.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Social Networking and Business 2, and also see that directory’s Page 1.

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