Archive for the ‘U.S. Domestic Affairs’ Category
Dysfunction In The White House – An Analysis (16 February 2017) by Lawrence Davidson
Part I – Dysfunction
There is something both horrifying and fascinating about the behavior of President Trump, as we watch him fail to cope with – or perhaps even recognize – the differences between the no-holds-barred world he created for his campaign and the much more polite and temperate world expected of leaders of a constitutional government.
As a result, the present White House appears to be a dysfunctional place. Apparently neither President Trump, nor most of his staff, have considered that there are real differences, different rules of behavior, between private and public life. Maintaining the model of the abusive boss, the know-it-all CEO (Trump’s preferred modus operandi), has, in quick order, proved both inappropriate and self-defeating. Here then are some of the consequences:
— The president has refused to stop being the avaricious businessman and relinquish control of his assets. As a result he will soon be facing an increasing number of lawsuits brought by various ethics organizations charging that his refusal to place his holdings in a blind trust violates the “emoluments clause” of the Constitution. The contention is that this can only lead to “scandal, corruption and illegitimacy.”
— The rush to impose a ban on immigration into the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries – imposed by executive order within ten days of inauguration – proved a sloppy piece of work. Trump simply assumed public opinion to be on his side and that that opinion could stand in for legal legitimacy. It didn’t work. The ban caused chaos and hardship, and quickly the courts temporarily set it aside as unconstitutional. The Justice Department lawyers, who had largely been kept out of the loop by the White House, did not have evidence that there was any real danger, historically or immediate, from immigrants of the countries cited in the ban. Pending a “total rewrite” or an appeal to the Supreme Court, Trump’s immigration ban is at a dead end.
— In the meantime, Trump has, in a manner that has become typical for him, attempted to delegitimize judicial opposition – opposition that anyone who is constitutionally savvy knows is solidly lawful. Thus his “so-called judge” statement. It may be an indication of the president’s enduring immaturity that he believes that anyone who stands in his way is a target for bullying and slander. And, indeed, in the private sphere where Donald Trump has been able to use his money to make his own rules, this tactic, apparently, did sometimes work. So, as if by habit, he has carried it over to the public sphere, where it is completely out of place and only makes him look like childish. Except to those adoring fans who were so visible on the campaign trail, his loose verbiage also makes Trump look like a “loser.” Trump’s own nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, has described the president’s bad-mouthing the appeals court judge who suspended the immigration ban as “disheartening” and “discouraging.”
There is one other point that is to be made about this “so-called judge” episode. It has turned the judge involved, James Robart (who is himself a “mainstream” Republican), into a potential target for violence. Having used abusive language throughout his campaign and seen the emotions it aroused, Trump is very likely to be aware that he is risking incitement to violence.
— There are many other moments of Trumpian bluster, such as his yelling at the Australian Prime Minister during an official phone call, or his threatening to send troops across the Mexican border during a call to the president of Mexico. All of this might reinforce his image as a tough guy, but in the political and diplomatic world that now holds him in a spotlight, he starts to remind people of other past cases of bullies in power, most of whom happen to be fascists of the 1920s and ‘30s.
Part II – A Shift in Protest Personnel
As a result of Trump’s bravado, there has been a rapid shift in public activism from Right to what in the U.S. passes for the Left. Just as is the case with the populist Republicans, there is a segment of the Democratic Party base that feels disenfranchised. Some of them tried to do something about this by backing Bernie Sanders. But that was unsuccessful. However, with Trump’s victory, rightwing populism abated, and almost immediately, it was replaced by the inchoate mass of “Left” populists you see hitting the streets today. It is the Sanders folks plus a whole array of special interest groups who feel very threatened by an empowered Right. There is no reason to believe that the anti-Trump array is going to be intimidated and give up. Indeed, the Left activists’ challenge is to coalesce into a real united front.
That should be made easier if Trump stays true to form, lurching from one outrageous move to another. And all the signs point down that road. The “so-called president” has ratcheted up his deportation efforts, allowing individual immigration officials discretion to go after any immigrant without proper documentation no matter of what age or the length of time they have been here. This is the equivalent of giving an army open-ended marching orders, and it is bound to result in abuses of power. He has begun his wall project for the southern border – an effort modeled after Israel’s infamous and illegal “separation (aka apartheid) wall.” He has begun the gutting of environmental and consumer safety regulations, a move which will poison the air and water for the sake of greater corporate profit. He has started to deregulate the banks – a strategy that, historically, has always eventually led to economic crisis. And, of course, attacking abortion and LGBT rights is also on his agenda. There is enough here to keep millions agitated for at least the next four years.
Part III – Opportunities and Risks
Thus, even though we are still early in his administration, there is no sign that anyone can control the President’s addiction to gaffes. He is an immature, thin-skinned egotist, and in the end, this may well cost the Republicans dearly.
However, one does have to give President Trump his due. He has a really exceptional ability to stir up the American political scene. For progressives such agitation creates opportunities and risks. There is now an opportunity for a truly united front of progressives that can reform the Democratic Party and give us, in the near term, a viable alternative to the manic CEO and rightwing radicals now occupying the White House. On the other hand, there is the risk that the apparatchiks who now control the Democratic Party will misread their situation. They might well fail to understand the meaning of the Tea Party movement’s capture of the Republican Party, and resist meaningful reform of their own party. If they can get away with this, it will leave the progressives without a political home. That will make reclaiming a progressive future much harder and the reign of the Right much longer. We will have to wait and see.
Immigrant Irony – An Analysis (3 February 2017) by Lawrence Davidson
Part I – The Irony of Not Liking Immigrants
On 21 April 1938 Franklin Roosevelt delivered a speech to a very conservative organization named the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). He told them to “remember, remember always that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
FDR’s message confused and irritated his audience. On the one hand their being descended from America’s original European immigrants was the source of the DAR ladies’ pride and status. On the other hand, they saw most of the immigrants that came after their own ancestors as rabble. This was not a logical attitude; it was rather an emotional one suggesting that their self-image was built around an elitist in-group – out-group identification. Roosevelt could see past this. He understood that for Americans to turn their backs on immigrants was to turn their backs on themselves.
Despite the lack of logic, the attitude of the DAR ladies toward immigrants was typical of most American citizens throughout a good part of the 19th and 20th centuries. A consistent, if inaccurate, link was made between labor strife, political radicalism, crime and immigration. Many elected and appointed officials were just as wrapped up in this mindset as everyone else, and so the animus often found expression in the policies of the federal and state governments. The result was not only restrictive immigration laws, most often based on geographic origins, but also periodic deportations – not all of them legal.
Part II – Historical Ignorance
Not many of today’s Americans know this history. They do not realize that some of the feared immigrants managed to stay in the U.S. and become their own progenitors. The children of these “aliens” learned English and American ways, intermarried with the offspring of other immigrants, and settled down. Their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are as authentically American as members of the DAR, and thus they too can now get anxious and fearful over the present controversial round of alleged dangerous immigration.
Donald Trump and his cohort of xenophobes benefit from this historical ignorance. When you are caught up in the moment and told by politicians and other “talking heads” that Muslims from Yemen to Syria are heading your way with murderous intent, the instinctive reaction is to take a defensive position.
Who stops and puts things in perspective? Well, we might as well do just that: roughly 85,000 refugees and asylum seekers were admitted into the United States in 2016. About 10% of them were Muslims. Of those from the seven countries on Trump’s travel ban list, none of them has killed anyone on American soil. In 2017 an American citizen has a .00003% (roughly 1 in 3.6 million) chance of dying at the hands of a foreign-born terrorist. In the meantime 36 Americans per day die as the result of gun violence (this figure is from 2015 but nothing has happened to make it obsolete).
So Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration are not fact based. Therefore they are hardly likely to be effective. Indeed, if periodic violent incidents involving Muslims do occur in the U.S. it is the Muslim Americans who are most likely to be the victims. After all, many Americans are not only running around with heads full of frightening misinformation, but they are armed to the teeth. If Trump and his agents want to “protect the homeland,” they should start by reforming the gun laws.
Part III – Why Such Ignorance?
Why such prevailing historical ignorance and analytical impotence? Well, among other reasons, it is a fact that one can get a college degree in the U.S. without ever taking a history course, much less one in formal logic. Core curriculums have been gutted because students (now seen by educational administrators as “customers”) want vocational educations and don’t care much about what was once known as the “liberal arts.” Things are not much better in the grammar and high schools, where history tends to play a propagandistic role. The object here is to learn to love our country and respect its leaders.
Making us all learn the historical facts (real and not alternate) about what periodically ails us – like immigration, race, labor issues, unemployment, human and civil rights, etc. – would certainly help calm the waters and move citizens in the direction of rational awareness.
I would like to think that the million or so protesters who have hit the streets against President Trump’s actions know more, historically, about their causes than the average citizen. However, that is probably naive. The protesters are also wrapped up in the moment and emotionally moved. They are also probably more single issue-oriented than they appear.
Yet, they have a common enemy, and that lays the basis for a possible united front, which is a very good first step. That immigrants benefit from this collective action is only fitting because the United States is, as FDR said, a nation of immigrants. Finally, let’s hope that the grandchildren of those who today do manage to reach the “land of the free” remember the tribulations of their grandparents, and be willing to hit the streets with the next generation of protesters. Because these are struggles that never really go away.
American Zionists and the Issue of Immigrants – An Analysis (24 January 2017) by Lawrence Davidson
Part I – The Immigrant Issue
It is a strange story. American Jews (and I expect it is the case with other Jews too) act in solidarity with other discriminated groups only if they, the Jews, resist Zionist leadership. If they follow the Zionist lead, they usually do one of two things: passively support the discriminatory majority or stay silent. This behavior is particularly true when it comes to the issue of immigrants.
I can see the eye-rolling and disgust on the faces of the Zionists who might be reading this analysis. Their reaction is to be expected because it is based on a self-image built on ideology rather than on honest knowledge of their own history. When we look at that history, we see that U.S. Zionist organizations have always played to the prejudices of the power brokers. The results, in terms of ethics and values, have been deplorable.
Here is a telling historical example. In the years leading up to the U.S. entrance into World War II, there was a general consensus on the issue of immigration. Most of the U.S. population was opposed to letting immigrants, most of whom were refugees, into the country. David Schoenbaum tells us in his book The U.S. and the State of Israel that in 1938, the same year as the Nazi pogrom known as Kristallnacht, 83% of respondents of a U.S. poll said they opposed any adjustment of immigration laws to allow in more European refugees. A year later, a bill to admit 20,000 mostly Jewish refugee children, above the existing minimal quota, failed in both the House and the Senate.
In part, this anti-immigrant attitude was the result of a Great Depression-era frame of mind which assumed that, even as war loomed on the horizon, unemployment was a permanent problem. And, in addition, the opposition to immigration was a reflection of traditional racism against any peoples whose origins were not the same as the U.S. middle and upper classes – mostly English and northern European.
For American Jews, the immigration of refugees was a particularly important issue. After all, Hitler ruled Germany and he was imprisoning and killing all the Jews he could get his hands on. As a result, much of Europe’s Jewish population was scared and ready to leave. However, often the problem was not getting out of the country oppressing you, but finding a safer country to get into.
Under the circumstances, one would assume that American Zionist organizations and leaders would be strongly lobbying Congress for greater refugee access to the U.S. However, as Gulie Ne’eman Arad tells us in the book America, Its Jews, and the Rise of Nazism, they were not. Typical of their attitude was a statement made by the Zionist leader Rabbi Stephen Wise during a Congressional hearing in 1939: “I have heard no sane person propose any departure from the existing [immigration] law now in force.” A self-damning statement if there ever was one.
Along the same lines it is to be noted that a year earlier, in 1938, the Zionist leader in Palestine, David Ben Gurion, had, according to the historian Benny Morris in his book Righteous Victims, declared that “if I knew it was possible to save all [Jewish] children in Germany by their transfer to England and only half of them by transferring them to Eretz-Yisrael [Palestine], I would choose the latter.”
Why was this the Zionist attitude? The reason offered at the time by American Zionists like Rabbi Wise was that an influx of Jewish refugees would spark an upsurge in anti-Semitism in the U.S. – a pitiful excuse in the case of not allowing entry to an additional 20,000 Jewish children. However this assertion was really a cover for a more ideologically dictated position. The Zionists did not want Europe’s Jewish refugees coming to the U.S. They wanted them to go to British-controlled Palestine.
However, the British had severely limited immigration into Palestine so as to maintain the support of Arabs for the Allied war effort against Germany and Italy. So what did Wise and his fellow U.S. Zionists do? They refused to engage in any attempt to support American immigration reform, and instead agitated in Congress, and the press, for pressure on the British to change Palestine’s immigration restrictions. They did this even though it at once cut off a viable American refuge for European Jews and threatened to complicate the British war effort in the Middle East.
Part II – Zionists and the Immigration Issue Today
Fast-forwarding to the present, we see that immigration and refugees are again major issues for the U.S. Today it is not Europeans, Jews or otherwise, fleeing from fascist oppression. Rather, it is Mexican immigrants crossing the country’s southern border in an effort to escape the poverty and violence of their homeland. It is also peoples of Arab ethnicity fleeing from wars that were often started or prolonged by the United States.
In the U.S. we now have a president, Donald Trump, who was elected on an anti-immigrant platform reflecting a bigoted outlook reminiscent of the 1930s. Trump wants to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border as well as a ban entry into the country of people of certain religious and/or national backgrounds.
Reaction to Trump’s bigotry has divided the American Jewish community. Organizations of progressive Jewish activists such as If Not Now (which puts itself forward as a “Jewish resistance” movement) and the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom (which allies with local Muslims to oppose discrimination and hate), along with a number of Jewish Democratic politicians, have vocally rejected the president’s position on immigrants, refugees and Muslims. However, the reaction of the Zionist organizations has mostly been true to their history. For instance, Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America, opposes the entrance of Syrian refugees “until we have a better vetting system.” One suspects this is an excuse because the present system is in fact, exhaustive. Now consider the more general position taken by the influential Abe Foxman, the “director emeritus” of the Anti-Defamation League. Foxman labels active resistance to Trump’s regressive policies, as well as any criticism of the positions taken by American Zionist organizations, as “nonsense.” Despite the fact that he, and other Jewish leaders, know that Trump “legitimized some of the ugliness,” Foxman wants to “enlist” the president in the fight against bigotry. He concludes that to “resist him and fight him is immature.” A similar position toward official bigotry was taken by Stephen Wise and the American Zionists in 1930s.
Part III – Conclusion
The safety and concerns of American Jews as regards bigotry and hate are not the primary interest of Zionist leaders like Klein and Foxman. Indeed, to the extent that such fears increase support for and dependence on Israel, these concerns are actually viewed as helpful. Nor do the Zionist organizations have any interest in opposing the U.S. government except on the command of the Israeli government. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has great regard for Donald Trump and high hopes that now the U.S. government will put a final seal of approval on Israel’s own bigoted treatment of the Palestinians and illegal absorption of the West Bank. So the American Zionist organizations are not going to actively oppose Trump and will pressure other Jews to either support him or to stay silent.
The truth is that the Zionists have been eroding away the humanistic aspects of Jewish values for decades – casting them aside in favor of worst sort of “identity politics.” As a consequence official Judaism, taking its marching orders from people like Wise and Foxman and Klein has remained stuck in an ethically deplorable rut.
A Future For The Democratic Party? – An Analysis (16 January 2017) by Lawrence Davidson
Part I – The Democratic Party in Trouble
You would think that learning from experience is a common thing to do. But, for the Democratic Party’s leadership this seems not to be the case. After the landslide victory of Trump’s version of the Republican Party in the 2016 national election, it is fair to say that the Democratic Party is in big trouble. As Senator Bernie Sanders has observed, the party needs to reform. Among other things it needs to ensure that whoever is the head of the Democratic National Committee [DNC] is dedicated to growing the party in a pro-civil rights as well as populist way. The party also needs to break free of special interest money and do away with biased “super delegates” that subvert the nominating process. Sanders suggests a reform commission to look into implementing the necessary changes.
There are millions of local Democratic voters who agree with Sanders. I am sure that their local party officials have heard from a lot from them. However, to date none of this has transferred over to the party’s national scene. Indeed Democratic power brokers like Chuck Schumer in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi in the House, who should be discredited in the eyes of everyone who identifies themselves with the Democratic Party, are still in place calling the shots. And, it is almost certain that whoever becomes head of the DNC will be vetted by these obsolete leaders and will follow their lead. It is a formula for repeated political failure, but it has the sense of something inevitable nonetheless.
Part II – Contributing Factors
Why have things worked out this way? Here are some of the contributing factors:
— Both the Democratic and Republican Parties have evolved into bureaucratized organizations at once dependent upon the financial resources of special interests and mainly responsive to those interests’ needs. This has led both parties to pay more attention to the siren calls of powerful lobbies than the needs of local constituencies.
This fits with the fact that the United States is not a democracy of individuals so much as a democracy of competing interest groups. These interest groups range from conservative to liberal, and many play both sides of the ideological field by giving donations to both parties and their major political leaders.
— The concentration on special interests has been facilitated by the fact that, historically, many American citizens care little about politics. They know little or nothing about how the political system works, much less the issues and pressures to which it responds. Many do not vote. Those who do vote are only marginally more knowledgable than those who do not. This means the party system relies on relatively small populations of avid supporters
The entrenched nature of the party bureaucracies and the traditional indifference of a large part of the citizenry make the system very hard, but not impossible, to reform.
— It is the Republican Party’s structure, and not that of the Democrats, that has suffered the strongest assault over the past couple of years. This is so despite the fact the Republicans have paid more attention to capturing state governorships, legislatures and even town councils than have the Democrats. The assault has come from the so-called Tea Party, which has its own local and regional organizations imbued with a strong sense of mission. That mission is to minimize altogether government involvement in society. The Tea Party had grown disappointed and estranged from the traditional Republican leadership and structure.
— The basis for Donald Trump’s success was partially laid by the Tea Party’s willingness to abandon their traditional support for the Republicans and place their faith in Trump. Ultimately, what now survives of the formal Republican Party are those elements which are willing to ally with Trump.
— In contrast, the Democratic Party survives intact, having marginalized Bernie Sanders’s liberal effort to restructure it. Ironically, its structural survival is its greatest weakness. As a consequence it will just plod along, stuck in its rut. All things being equal this might condemn the Democrats to minority status for a long time.
— The only thing that might alter this fate is the catastrophic failure of Trump and his Republican allies – failure to such an extent that the Democratic party, at least temporarily, again appears as an acceptable alternative to a population scared for its future.
Part III – Republican Failure?
Actually, catastrophic failure on Trump’s part may occur.
This is because Trump, his Republican allies in the House and Senate, and the Tea Party are all determined to destroy a good part of the federal government’s social and environmental programs, as well as radically deregulate the economy. To this end the very first bill the Republicans rammed through Congress (it happened on 4 January 2017) was “one designed to roll back a range of environmental and consumer regulations.” The bill was appropriately named the “Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017.” This bit of misguided legislation is only the beginning.
Regulations have a foundational reason for being, foundational because they serve as a check on the greed and larceny that, all too often, seem to lie at the heart of political and economic leaders. That does not mean that regulations should not be fair and efficient – carrying with them a minimum of red tape. However, to do away with them all altogether is, historically, stupid.
The economic and social history of 19th- and 20th-century American makes it abundantly clear that regulation is the sine qua non of modern societal stability. Don’t want discrimination based on race, religion, gender, and the like? Don’t want another economic depression? Don’t want adulterated food and drugs? Want safe transportation both on the ground and in the air? Want safe medical treatment? Want drinkable water and breathable air? Then you want, indeed you absolutely need, economic, environmental and social regulations.
Somehow President-Elect Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and their many rightwing associates are unaware of the historically established need for such action. In that part of their brains where the relevant historical facts should reside, these individuals have substituted neoliberal ideology – the same sort of outlook that brought you the 1929 Great Depression and other assorted woes. If our present crop of rightwing leaders get their way, then, sooner or later, we will be able to relive all that misery.
Then, without reforming themselves at all, the Democratic Party might once more win a national election — the hard way.
How to Destroy a Planet – An Analysis (23 December 2016) by Lawrence Davidson
Part I – Planetary Destruction
There is more than one way to destroy the planet Earth. Enough nuclear explosions could do it, and rather quickly at that. But now that we are pals with Russia (and assuming president-elect Trump does not try to nuke China in defense of Taiwan) the potential for that level of carnage has lessened. Of course, the Pakistanis and Indians might go at it, but they only have the capacity to torch part of the planet.
There are other pathways to planetary destruction. The principal one, global warming, requires more time than a nuclear exchange for the consequences to be realized, but in the end, the planet would definitely become a disaster zone.
So, those critics of the next U.S. president who have been rightfully worrying about handing Mr. Trump the nation’s nuclear codes now have something else to worry about. The man is openly planning on leading us into a fatally overheated future.
Part II – Disarming in a Time of War
President-elect Donald Trump is ignorant of many things. Most of all he is ignorant of his own ignorance – a situation that often accompanies a grandiose estimation of oneself. One of the subjects on which Trump’s ignorance stands out is environmental protection – the rubric under which comes the effort to save the planet from global warming. This warming process is a scientific fact and the subject of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Under this agreement, 195 countries seek to reduce greenhouse gas emission levels. However, Mr. Trump, not to be deterred by either political or scientific consensus, has declared that global warming is “a hoax” perpetrated by environmentally friendly companies which seek to “make a lot of money.”
On the basis of this belief, the president-elect now prepares to institutionalize his ignorance. He will do so by radically cutting back the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, scrapping President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, and deleting many other environmental regulations which Trump and his followers find “unnecessary.” Actually, taken as a whole, Donald Trump’s plans for the environment – that is, the planet’s environment and not just that of the United States – are the equivalent of disarming in a time war.
To lead this perverse disarmament effort Trump has chosen Myron Ebell, a “sound-bite artist” for tobacco, pesticide and fossil-fuel companies. Ebell has made a career out of undermining the regulations that get in the way of polluters “making a lot of money.” What does Ebell really know about global warming? Here is one of his learned judgments: “As for carbon dioxide it isn’t smog or smoke, it’s what we breathe out and plants breathe in. They call it pollution. We call it life.” It is a frivolous statement about a deadly serious subject. Of course, the excess CO2 that is in fact “pollution” does not come from your breath. It comes from the production practices of Mr. Ebell’s client industries.
Behind this flippancy stands a man who, in terms of the science, knows nothing about the subject but is driven by the conviction that regulation efforts in general are “just a pretext for expanding government” – a conventional conservative line.
Part III – Promoting Global Warming – A Crime against Humanity
The development of international law specific to crimes against humanity is ongoing. Today we commonly associate such crimes with acts of genocide, torture, enslavement, and so forth. However, the list of chargeable actions needs expansion.
In 1947 the United Nations gave an International Law Commission the task of “drafting a code of offenses against the peace and security of mankind.” The task was never definitively completed. However, given this wording, I think we can go beyond the usual notion of wartime horrors and genocides and consider harm to the planet as a whole.
A government that purposefully adopts policies that cause, among other things, (1) rising sea levels that will drown some island nations and destructively impact almost everyone living in low-lying costal areas (10% of the world’s population), (2) an increase in the rate and intensity of storms, floods and droughts, and (3) the jeopardizing of all those who do not have the ability to cope with consequences of extreme heat, is certainly a government that “endangers the peace and security of mankind.” It is a government whose leaders should be considered chargeable with crimes against humanity.
Part IV – Conclusion
The intent of Donald Trump, soon to be president of the United States, to cast off the 2015 Paris Agreement and purposefully pursue policies that ensure ever greater global warming is an assault on all of us. After all, given the long-range results of global warming mentioned above, Trump’s intent, carried through into action, is potentially more destructive in lives and property than the Holocaust, the civil wars of former Yugoslavia and the genocidal rampage in Rwanda.
Of course, global warming is a slower-moving catastrophe, the consequences of which can at present be ignored by most citizens whose concerns go little beyond their immediate economic desires. And by the time those consequences become too blatant to ignore, the criminals will either be dead, senile with age, or, perhaps, blaming their criminal behavior on “bad intelligence” as does George W. Bush in regards to his disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq.
We can say with some certainty that those who voted for Trump never considered the criminal nature of promoting global warming. We can say with equal certainty that their grandchildren will have no choice but to do so.
Trump and the Jews – An Analysis (28 November 2016) by Lawrence Davidson
Part I – The Background
Before the year 1967 the political and social relationships of the American Jewish community were very different than today. Those relationships were based on simple and accurate logic. Jews in the United States were a minority. Their country of residence had other minorities as well, most notably the African Americans, who also had a long history of being discriminated against. Given these conditions, it made sense for the American Jews to make alliances with other U.S. minorities – a united front, so to speak – with the clear-sighted understanding that if one group’s rights were attacked, all of their rights stood in danger. The alliance proved beneficial, and many American Jews were involved in the the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
This era of mutually beneficial cooperation lasted until the year 1967. In that year the State of Israel, which had put forth the hubristic claim of being a “Jewish state” whose government had the right to speak for the world’s Jews, conquered territory from several of its neighboring states and then (1) refused to withdraw from most of that land, (2) began to move their own population into the conquered lands in violation of international law, and finally (3) began ethnically cleansing the conquered area of its non-Jewish population. This process was so blatantly illegal and racist in nature that almost all American minority groups protested against it (the only exception being right-wing Cuban Americans). Particularly strong protests came from African Americans.
At that point American Jews had an important decision to make. Should they maintain a principled anti-racist position which required standing apart from Israeli action and preserve their united front with other U.S. minority groups? Or should they abandon the united front strategy and cast their fortunes with their increasingly racist Israeli cousins?
Though it was predictably a tragic misjudgment, the American Jewish elite, and most of the Jews of the time who followed their lead, abandoned the anti-racist front, angrily turned away from those critical of Israeli behavior, and began supporting and rationalizing Israel’s war on the indigenous population (the Palestinians) of the lands they had conquered.
This situation has continued to the present day. And, during all this time, it seems never to have occurred to the American Jewish community that their bond with Israel has cost them exactly those domestic allies that they would need if hate groups – those who lump together Jews with other American minorities and detest them all – eventually found influence in Washington.
Part II – Enter Trump
And now that is what appears to be happening. Donald Trump is president-elect. An article in Haaretz describes Trump’s worldview as “reactionary, nativist, chauvinistic, anti-foreigner, anti-immigrant and mainly anti-Muslim.” This concoction is threatening to American Jews as well. One can see this by paying attention to some of the people Trump is now naming as advisors and cabinet appointees. People such as:
Steve Bannon – Trump’s “chief strategist.” Bannon is a leader in the so-called “white nationalist” movement and “the standard bearer” for racist, anti-immigrant positions. He is also an anti-Semite who, reportedly, does not want his children going to school with Jews.
Frank Gaffney – Trump is consulting with Gaffney on a range of national security appointments. The problem is that Gaffney’s view of the world is crazy. He is the founder of a think tank called the Center for Security Policy, which promotes such ideas as (1) president Obama is a “closet Muslim,” (2) the Muslim Brotherhood is “infiltrating the U.S. government at high levels,” and (3) Islamic religious law is “replacing American democracy.”
Jeff Sessions – Sessions is a senator from Alabama whom Trump wants to make Attorney General because, allegedly, he is “a world class legal mind.” He is also a known racist who, as a prosecuting attorney in Alabama, was denied a federal judgeship because of his racial insensitivity. What else can one expect from someone who thinks that “a white voting rights lawyer was a disgrace to his race.” The American Civil Liberties Union describes Sessions as “the senator with probably the most anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-child record in the Senate.”
Gaffney and Sessions might not be as obviously anti-Semitic as Bannon, but one has to understand that there is a threat of their acting so, or condoning such action, by virtue of their overall hostility to minorities.
Part III – Two Consequences
Trump’s election and choice of advisors have had two important consequences for Jews:
— The evolving social situation in the United States is now creating pressure on its Jewish community to move back to that pre-1967 position of a united front – the position that says an attack on the civil rights of one U.S. minority group is an attack on all of them. The need for such a position is so obvious that even the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, has responded to it. In a recent speech he declared, “We must stand with our fellow Americans who may be singled out for how they look, who they love, where they’re from or how they pray. … So I pledge to you … that if one day Muslim-Americans will be forced to register their identities, then that is the day that this proud Jew will register as a Muslim.”
Unfortunately, Greenblatt’s position is not a unanimous one among American Jewish leaders. As the Jewish commentator Peter Beinart points out, “American Jewry’s two most influential groups [AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations] no longer take moral responsibility for the country in which their members live.” That is because they have chosen to become promoters of Israeli, and not American, interests. “The result is that America’s most powerful Jewish organizations … judge American politicians by one standard: Do they support the Israeli government no matter what?”
— The Israeli government and its settler supporters have come out in full support of present-elect Trump, thus revealing a willingness to, at the very least, turn a blind eye to the evolving anti-Semitic trends within the new administration. While this might seem crazy, there is in fact a method to this madness. Israeli journalist Yaron London explained this in a recent op-ed piece on Ynet: “a world view which supports white supremacy matches our [Israel’s] government’s interests.” Why so? Because “all forms of Zionism hold the perception that a certain extent of anti-Semitism benefits the Zionist enterprise. To put it more sharply, anti-Semitism is the generator and ally of Zionism. Masses of Jews leave their place of residence only when their economic situation and physical safety are undermined.”
Part IV – A Second Chance
American Jews now have a rare opportunity. They can realize where their real interests lie and act accordingly. And, as they always have, those interests lie in upholding the universal principles of civil and humanitarian rights. To not do so is to affirm their present alliance with a nation self-destructing on tribalism and racism.
The truth is that Zionism has turned out to be a tragic and potentially fatal mistake. Those who led the Jewish community to support Zionism tied the fate of the U.S. Jews to an apartheid political ideology that has isolated them from much that is decent and progressive in the world.
As problematic as it is, the ascendency of Donald Trump gives the American Jews a second chance to make the right choice, to join with their natural allies and fight for the equal rights of all groups. U.S. Jews should think long and hard about this, for it may well be that their second chance will also be their last chance.
Local Fear And Ignorance In The Rise of Donald Trump – An Analysis (19 November 2016) by Lawrence Davidson
Part I – The Thirty-Mile Phenomenon
The election of Donald Trump as president was motivated by a popular rejection of party politics as it had evolved over the decades. There was a rejection of politics that only responded to special interests and not to millions of increasingly disappointed and frustrated citizens. However, there was something else underlying this, and that was a prevailing despair as to how to change the system.
Most people who said they wanted change (with the possible exception of the Tea Party loyalists) apparently just sulked and waited for a “strong man” to come along and then, again apparently giving little thought to who this guy really was and what he really stood for, voted him into office. Why was there a passive acceptance of, first, a dissatisfying status quo and then, second, a very problematic agent of change?
One way of understanding this situation is to see it as a consequence, at least in part, of what I call the “thirty-mile phenomenon” – the fact that a majority of people, any people and not just Americans, can observe relatively accurately what is going on around them within a thirty-mile radius. This is where they live and work, where their friends are and the other people they interact with. If something unusual is going on within this zone, it is possible for an individual to “check things out” and make a more or less informed decision.
However, go beyond this thirty miles and things quickly get fuzzy. In this wider zone most people come close to “knowing nothing.” That does not mean they are stupid or incapable of understanding the outside world. It does mean that they are largely ignorant of it and therefore are dependent on various forms of media to inform them, perhaps reliably, perhaps not (Fox News comes to mind). As we have just found out, such dependence puts us all at great risk.
It may well be because of this ignorance that it took so long for anger at the status quo to build to a boil. That same ignorance can account for why Donald Trump was able to get elected while speaking nonsense, while presenting himself as someone who was literally the very opposite of who he really is, and while blatantly lying with shocking regularity.
Part II – Trumpian Misrepresentations
Edward Graydon Carter, a Canadian-born American journalist and editor of Vanity Fair has put together a list of Trumpian misrepresentations. I paraphrase some of them below. After each of Carter’s statements about Trump, I describe how it could be readily accepted by an ignorant public.
Carter: Only in America, a nation built on a history of immigration, could a man who married two immigrants—one of whom is alleged to have worked illegally when she first arrived—run on an anti-immigration platform.
— Trump can marry, and also employ, “his” immigrants as long as he promises to deport the millions of others who are the focus of local misconceived and irrational fears.
Carter: Only in America could a man with a legendary reputation for stiffing small-business owners and wage laborers be able to pass himself off as a champion of the little guy.
— Trump can “stiff small-business owners and wage laborers” in places like Atlantic City and Los Vegas, but this is largely unknown to the local voters in rural Iowa, Ohio and North Dakota. The result was that this particular bit of truth had almost no impact.
Carter: Only in America could a man who brags about groping and kissing women without their consent win 53 percent of the vote among white women.
— Trump can be an outspoken misogynist but that is not a significant drawback in areas where white women explain such action away by claiming that the “average” local white man behaves much like Trump. In other words, his behavior fits within their familiar understanding of the male world.
Certer: Only in America could a man who kept a volume of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside rule over the second-largest Jewish population in the world.
— That Trump has read, apparently uncritically, the speeches of Adolf Hitler should cause more alarm bells to go off than does his admiration of Vladimir Putin. But of course most locally oriented folks don’t care what their hero reads. The historical knowledge on this subject of those born after 1960 is probably too superficial to even allow a clear idea of what this choice of bedtime reading suggests.
Carter: Only in America could a man who thinks climate change is a hoax, and something invented by the Chinese, be put in charge of not only the Environmental Protection Agency but also our negotiations with other nations—at the most calamitous environmental period in the earth’s modern history.
— When it comes to global warming, it is very possible that, unless their local environment is noticeably impacted, most people shrug their shoulders and think that global warming is either untrue, exaggerated, or relevant to a future time that they can’t relate to. For, you see, localism operates in time as well as place. Most Americans see global warming as not relevant to their “now.” It is like the national debt – someone else’s future problem.
Part IV – Conclusion
Donald Trump has played to the average citizen’s fears of what is going on beyond their thirty-mile zone, and the feeling that whatever it is, it is bad and already irreparably invading their local neighborhood.
Specifically this translates into perceived threats to community self-identification, often tied to feelings of nationalism, and threats to economic well-being of people whose education and training cannot accommodate rapid technological development.
Political leadership not only did not seek to ameliorate the resulting unemployment, under-employment and fears of cultural change but rather, in the popular mind, the U.S. elites appeared to accept these problems as inevitable aspects of changing times. As a consequence, the local popular reaction, confused about real causes and real solutions, became open to exploitation.
Millions of Americans were obviously thrilled when Donald Trump appeared to acknowledge their fears and frustrations. Feeling that the worse is yet to come, they willingly ignored his Trumpian misrepresentations in the hope of salvation.
It would appear that the political pendulum, both in the U.S and elsewhere, has swung from a fragile “progressive” point on its arc to a potentially savage regressive location. A lot of damage can be done in the next four to eight years unless humane and truly progressive counter-strategies to what is coming down the line are devised – and devised fast.
Donald Trump’s Moment: Will It Last? – An Analysis (11 November 2016) by Lawrence Davidson
Part I – A Systems Failure
On election day Hillary Clinton, with all her data specialists and poll gurus, came up short. The morning after, they didn’t know what hit them – that is, the unexpected fact that statistical data and real life don’t always coincide. People often tell pollsters what they think the pollsters want to hear, or what media tells them is the expected answer, while clandestinely harboring different opinions that they share only with their family, friends and drinking buddies.
Hillary Clinton and the Democratic leadership, as well as their Republican Party counterparts, represent a well entrenched political system. That system is responsive to lobbies or interest groups and not disgruntled citizens. What is more, none of the country’s political bosses can see beyond this system and how it relates to their own political needs. During the 2016 election campaign that near sightedness led to a fatal misinterpretation: that Trump represented only hooligans and “deplorable” people who could not themselves possibly add up to a “silent majority.” Thinking along these lines, Clinton and the overconfident Democratic establishment made a perhaps unconscious decision to let this apparent bozo Trump lose the election, rather than they, the Democrats, going out there and doing what was necessary to win it. For instance, they apparently did not bother to design a message to compete for the votes of those listening to Trump. They did not take into consideration the historically observable fact that millions of Americans had, over the last fifty years, seemed to have given up on politics because they saw the system as unresponsive. The Democrat establishment did not respond to this phenomenon. Indeed, they made sure Bernie Sanders, the only Democrat who was trying to respond, would fail.
Part II – A Deep Division
The truth is that the United States is a very deeply divided country, and has been since the 1960s. The division is multifaceted and involves cultural issues that touch on gender, race and lifestyle; and class issues such as job creation and trade treaties. Also, the city mouse/country mouse divide is very real and very deep. Much of rural white America has various degrees of negative feelings toward African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and anyone else who does not look and talk like them. These are the same sort of people who once hated kids with long hair, afros, and a preference for marijuana over whiskey. All of these disgruntled ones, like those millions of Christian Fundamentalists out there, have never gone away. They were just waiting – even if some of them didn’t know it. They were waiting for a “hero,” and when he appeared, they elected him president. So the divisions are real and they are not new. And no one in the political establishment, Democrat or Republican, addressed them. That opened the door for Mr. Trump.
That means Trump’s victory should not properly be seen as a Republican Party victory. Trump just exploited the party label. In truth, he has destroyed the Republican Party as we traditionally knew it. Its future is very uncertain.
Part III – What Can We Expect?
Donald Trump has made a fetish out of being unpredictable, which, at the very least, is bad for the stock market. Inevitably, however, there will be signs that give a hint as to what might be expected. For instance, Trump will have to name a cabinet. Interestingly enough, most of those who will be available, be they private sector business people or right-wing goofballs like Sarah Palin and Chris Christie, are creatures of the standing political system. They have no real interest in reforming current ways of doing things as against profiting from them – which, of course, is a form of business as usual.
There will be tremendous pressure on Donald Trump to go along with and slot himself into the existing political system in Washington (as did Obama). At every turn, in Congress and in the bureaucracies, there will be no one to deal with but systems people. Beyond a limited number of exclusively executive functions, Trump needs standing political arrangements to operate. Thus, if he suddenly turns relatively conventional, no one should be too surprised. What about all that campaign rebel talk? Well, remember, he is unpredictable which, in his case, goes well with also being a consistent liar.
Part IV – Conclusion
Trump promised a lot during the campaign. He was going to rebuild the inner cities, the military, all of the nation’s bridges, etc. And he would do so while simultaneously lowering taxes. Short of bankrupting the country, this is fiscally impossible. He promised to remake foreign policy which, being within the realm of executive power, may be more doable. Will he try to cancel international trade agreements? Will he pull out of NATO? Will he dump the Zionists and the Saudis? Will he ally with the Russians? These are interesting questions. What about global warming, which he claims not to believe in? How about international law and our relationship to the United Nations? It’s all up for grabs, and that worries a lot of people – very few of whom voted for Trump.
Many of those who did vote for Donald Trump don’t care about any of this. They voted for him because he appeared to stand against the political system they hate. They want the country ethnically cleansed of Mexicans, the government downsized and, culturally, the clock turned back to the 1950s. If he does not do this he will appear to have become part of that hateful system, and his fans may well end up hating him too.
How Original Is Donald Trump? An Analysis (20 October 2016) by Lawrence Davidson
Part I – Trump and his Predecessors
One frequent question I have gotten during the presidential campaign goes like this: “Donald Trump is so awful – have we ever had a presidential candidate as bad as him?”
Although often pictured as unprecedented, it turns out that for those acquainted with United States political history, there is something familiar about Mr. Trump. Thus, while uncommon in many ways, he is not original. In an article entitled “The Mind of Donald Trump” appearing in the June 2016 issue of Atlantic magazine, author Dan P. McAdams places Trump in both a historical and psychological context. He shows us we have been here before.
McAdams describes Trump as an angry, restless, narcissistic person driven to socially dominate every situation in which he finds himself. In terms of recent occupants of the White House, this gives him some traits in common with Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
Like Richard Nixon, Donald Trump is a self-centered and disagreeable fellow. That is, in most circumstances, his default position is one of insensitivity, immodesty and a pushy, bullying attitude.
Like Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump the narcissist is always on stage, seeking to be the center of attention, an actor playing the starring role.
Like George W. Bush, Donald Trump plays that role in a frenetic, dynamic fashion. He is always on the go. He gives the impression that if he ever did stop and think about himself objectively he would fall apart. Thus, he has to keep moving.
However, Trump is only superficially like these recent presidents. If you want to know which past president really should remind us of Donald Trump, you would have to go back to 1820s and the political life of Andrew Jackson. Most Americans know Jackson, at least by sight, because he graces the U.S. twenty-dollar bill.
Part II – Donald Trump and Andrew Jackson
Jackson and Trump are alike in remarkable detail. McAdams tells us that “President Andrew Jackson displayed many of the same psychological characteristics we see in Donald Trump — the extroversion and social dominance, the volatile temper, the shades of narcissism, the populist authoritarian appeal.” Both men are/were Washington outsiders who are/were adored by an often under-educated and frustrated segment of the population who identified with their hot-headed temperament, crude language and potential for violence. Moreover, Washington insiders of that era “reviled Jackson” much as they now do Trump. Soon after Jackson won the presidency (with his second attempt in 1828), in a highly symbolic act, he invited “everyday folk to the inaugural reception. To the horror of the political elite, throngs tracked mud through the White House and broke dishes and decorative objects.” It is easy to imagine Trump doing the same thing. By the way, Jackson always claimed that he lost his first attempt at the White House in the election of 1824 because his opponents cheated. Trump is already preparing a similar storyline.
McAdams goes on to tell us that “the similarities between Andrew Jackson and Donald Trump … extend to the dynamic created by these dominant social actors and their adoring audiences.”
We can draw out this comparison even further. Perhaps Trump’s most public image is that of the angry orator telling large attentive crowds that the U.S. is in deep trouble. “Something very bad is happening,” he tells them, and the crowd waits with great anticipation for the simple solutions Mr. Trump will offer. The crowd knows that Trump’s fears are accurate. Their own lives stand as proof to that fact. They are poor, alienated and with no prospects. He is their strong leader who will destroy their competitors (the “immigrants”) – who, in any case, aren’t real Americans at all.
Just as it is with Trump, so was it with Jackson. Jackson was deemed “King Mob” by his opponents because of his ability to speak the language and direct the passions of the crowds that flocked to hear him lay out the country’s problems. The enemy Jackson offered up for sacrifice to his mob was the American Indian. And, when he did become president, Jackson pushed through Congress the American Indian Removal Act. He then forced the relocation of 45,000 Native Americans. In the case of the Cherokees, at least 4,000 died in the process. The enemy Trump offers up to his listeners is Latin Americans residing in the U.S. without documentation. He wants to deport perhaps as many as a million of them and then build a wall along the southern border to keep others out. Trump also offers the crowd American Muslims, whether legally resident or not. All of them represent an un-American “contagion,” helping to prevent the reawakening of American greatness. Those who would prevent this act of purification are, of course, enemies not only of Trump/Jackson, but of the nation and its destiny. Trump says again and again that Hillary Clinton must be put in jail. “On the last day of his presidency,” Jackson said his only regret was that he was never able to definitively deal with all of his political opponents. He fantasized shooting and hanging them.
Part III – Differing on the Down Side
The U.S. survived the presidency of Andrew Jackson, although thousands of Native Americans did not. It is said that his victory opened the office of the presidency to men who were not of the elite, the so-called “aristocrats” of the founding generation. But Jackson himself, though self-made, was a man of wealth, and his election helped confirm the fact that only those of wealth could afford to run for high office. On the other hand, as Trump reminds us, wealth need not get in the way of a politician appearing as “one of the boys.” All you need to do is “talk the talk” – a disdainful, arrogant and belligerent talk. Both Trump and Jackson were able to do just that.
If the United States experienced the political career of Andrew Jackson with acceptable levels of internal tumult, at least among its voting classes, one can ask if the country will as readily weather the political odyssey of Donald Trump.
In 1824 Jackson lost his first bid for the White House. It had been a three-party race and Jackson had gotten the most electoral college votes, but not the number of them needed to win. The election was therefore decided by the House of Representatives. Here a deal was made by his two opponents, John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay, to throw the election to Adams, who then appointed Clay Secretary of State.
Jackson’s supporters were very upset, with some obvious justification. However, Jackson kept them under control even while keeping their resentment alive. He used that unsettled state of feeling to win in 1828. It does not look as if Mr. Trump is willing, or perhaps capable, of handling loss in the same creative way.
Sensing defeat, Trump has already declared his belief in a grand conspiracy involving the Clintons, bankers, feminists and the media, who have conspired to cheat him out of the presidency. That he could be the source of his own troubles seems not an allowable possibility to him, given the extreme narcissistic nature of his character. This being the case, if he is defeated, what message will he send his followers – people who already are convinced that U.S. political system is corrupt?
My guess is that, unlike Jackson, Trump will have no coherent message beyond his present complaints. In the end he might just be too immature to handle this kind of very personal and public defeat. He may rant for a while and then go into seclusion, leaving his followers to fend for themselves. What they might then do with their own anger and disappointment is still an unknown.
True Believers and the U.S. Election – An Analysis (27 September 2016) by Lawrence Davidson
Part I – The Universal Presence of the True Believer
One thing that Donald Trump has done is brought the U.S. version of “true believer” to the political forefront. This group of people was best described by Eric Hoffer (1898-1983). Hoffer was a largely self-educated, working-class, American social philosopher. His best-known work was entitled The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, published in1951.
Hoffer made the following points about true believers:
— They consider the social conditions under which they live hopelessly corrupt and alienating.
— They feel that these social conditions rob them of self-esteem and render their lives worthless.
— Only by submerging themselves in a larger movement demanding radical change can they regain self-worth.
According to Hoffer, being part of a mass on the move is more important to such individuals than the goals of a particular movement. This means that the movements that attract them are interchangeable. That is why they can be Nazis or communists, fanatical devotees of a religion, or part of an aggressive movement to, supposedly, redeem U.S. greatness.
Part II – Mr. Trump’s True Believers
Donald Trump has recruited this demographic element for his campaign to become president. Indeed, it appears to be his core constituency.
Thomas Donlan, writing in Barrons, puts it this way:
“Trump voters … are angry about being losers in the modern economy. It’s harder than ever to make their way forward without the advanced education or skills that are in demand. … They blame elites and the establishment for casting them loose. … Trump has taken their cause to the political stump and set himself up as their winner.”
To get an even better sense of the emotional drive behind Trump’s true believers one should read Dana Milbank’s piece entitled “A Day with Trump’s True Believers,” which appeared in the Washington Post on 14 March 2016.
“I watched Sunday night’s rally here [Boca Raton, Florida] … up front, in the crush of the crowd. … Once Trump arrived, they [the crowd] became ominously transfixed and aggressive. They pumped their fists, flashed thumbs up, mouthed ‘Thank you,’ chanted ‘Trump! Trump! Trump!’ and hung on the candidate’s every word — often with looks of ecstasy and some visibly trembling.
“Trump captivated them with words that were alternately desperate and violent: “Our country is going to hell. . . . We’re sitting on a very big, fat, ugly, bubble. . . . We’re like the lap dog for the world. . . . Drugs are pouring across. . . . They’re chopping off heads. . . . You see so many people being killed. . . . The jobs are being sucked out. . . . We’re losing with everybody.
“Twice he said that in a Trump presidency they could “relax” while he defeated the Islamic State and beat the world in trade. ‘We’re gonna become rich again,’ he promised. ‘We’re gonna become great again.’ From the passionate cheers sounding around me, I knew they believed him.”
Part III – Allied Groups
The true believers are not the only people who will vote for Donald Trump. There will be some Republicans who will vote that party ticket not really knowing or caring who is representing it. They are “knee-jerk” party loyalists whose family and friends have been Republicans for generations and vote that way, literally out of habit (the Democrats have their own version of this phenomenon). There are allied constituencies of fanatics such as fundamentalist Christians who hate alleged Democratic atheists and there are neo-anarchists who hate the federal government. And then there are those who are just confused. They have their complaints that seem never to be addressed, they witness repetitive scandals and corruption, and all of this tempts them to vote for the candidate who promises to bring “real” change. All of these allied groups will vote for Mr. Trump.
However, Trump himself seems most bonded to his true believer supporters, and this makes him all the more dangerous. Perhaps the source of that bond is the fact that the true believers don’t care about constitutional protections and the rule of law, and one gets the sense that neither do Mr. Trump and his close advisers.
Will all these discontented people be enough to get Mr. Trump elected? Perhaps. The probability goes up or down to the extent that the Democrats do or don’t manage to turn out a sufficient number of their own supporters on election day. In other words, the contest is Hillary Clinton’s to lose.
Part IV – Consequences
There is the question of just how much damage can Trump (and his followers) do regardless of whether he is elected. If he is elected he may be able to enact his destructive policies or he may be hemmed in by a Congress that will be less radical and by governors who are more cautious.