How Trump Happened

Source: RSN

Author: Joseph E. Stiglitz, Project Syndicate

Emphasis Mine

As I have traveled around the world in recent weeks, I am repeatedly asked two questions: Is it conceivable that Donald Trump could win the US presidency? And how did his candidacy get this far in the first place?

As for the first question, though political forecasting is even more difficult than economic forecasting, the odds are strongly in favor of Hillary Clinton. Still, the closeness of the race (at least until very recently) has been a mystery: Clinton is one of the most qualified and well prepared presidential candidates that the United States has had, while Trump is one of the least qualified and worst prepared. Moreover, Trump’s campaign has survived behavior by him that would have ended a candidate’s chances in the past.

So why would Americans be playing Russian roulette (for that is what even a one-in-six chance of a Trump victory means)? Those outside the US want to know the answer, because the outcome affects them, too, though they have no influence over it.

And that brings us to the second question: why did the US Republican Party nominate a candidate that even its leaders rejected?

Obviously, many factors helped Trump beat 16 Republican primary challengers to get this far. Personalities matter, and some people do seem to warm to Trump’s reality-TV persona.

But several underlying factors also appear to have contributed to the closeness of the race. For starters, many Americans are economically worse off than they were a quarter-century ago. The median income of full-time male employees is lower than it was 42 years ago, and it is increasingly difficult for those with limited education to get a full-time job that pays decent wages.

Indeed, real (inflation-adjusted) wages at the bottom of the income distribution are roughly where they were 60 years ago. So it is no surprise that Trump finds a large, receptive audience when he says the state of the economy is rotten. But Trump is wrong both about the diagnosis and the prescription. The US economy as a whole has done well for the last six decades: GDP has increased nearly six-fold. But the fruits of that growth have gone to a relatively few at the top – people like Trump, owing partly to massive tax cuts that he would extend and deepen.

At the same time, reforms that political leaders promised would ensure prosperity for all – such as trade and financial liberalization – have not delivered. Far from it. And those whose standard of living has stagnated or declined have reached a simple conclusion: America’s political leaders either didn’t know what they were talking about or were lying (or both).

Trump wants to blame all of America’s problems on trade and immigration. He’s wrong. The US would have faced deindustrialization even without freer trade: global employment in manufacturing has been declining, with productivity gains exceeding demand growth.

Where the trade agreements failed, it was not because the US was outsmarted by its trading partners; it was because the US trade agenda was shaped by corporate interests. America’s companies have done well, and it is the Republicans who have blocked efforts to ensure that Americans made worse off by trade agreements would share the benefits.

Thus, many Americans feel buffeted by forces outside their control, leading to outcomes that are distinctly unfair. Long-standing assumptions – that America is a land of opportunity and that each generation will be better off than the last – have been called into question. The global financial crisis may have represented a turning point for many voters: their government saved the rich bankers who had brought the US to the brink of ruin, while seemingly doing almost nothing for the millions of ordinary Americans who lost their jobs and homes. The system not only produced unfair results, but seemed rigged to do so.

Support for Trump is based, at least partly, on the widespread anger stemming from that loss of trust in government. But Trump’s proposed policies would make a bad situation much worse. Surely, another dose of trickle-down economics of the kind he promises, with tax cuts aimed almost entirely at rich Americans and corporations, would produce results no better than the last time they were tried.

In fact, launching a trade war with China, Mexico, and other US trading partners, as Trump promises, would make all Americans poorer and create new impediments to the global cooperation needed to address critical global problems like the Islamic State, global terrorism, and climate change. Using money that could be invested in technology, education, or infrastructure to build a wall between the US and Mexico is a twofer in terms of wasting resources.

There are two messages US political elites should be hearing. The simplistic neo-liberal market-fundamentalist theories that have shaped so much economic policy during the last four decades are badly misleading, with GDP growth coming at the price of soaring inequality. Trickle-down economics hasn’t and won’t work. Markets don’t exist in a vacuum. The Thatcher-Reagan “revolution,” which rewrote the rules and restructured markets for the benefit of those at the top, succeeded all too well in increasing inequality, but utterly failed in its mission to increase growth.

This leads to the second message: we need to rewrite the rules of the economy once again, this time to ensure that ordinary citizens benefit. Politicians in the US and elsewhere who ignore this lesson will be held accountable. Change entails risk. But the Trump phenomenon – and more than a few similar political developments in Europe – has revealed the far greater risks entailed by failing to heed this message: societies divided, democracies undermined, and economies weakened.

See:http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/39719-focus-how-trump-happened

Trump Flat-Out Lies About Crime in Attempt to Woo Black Voters

Facts don’t back up the Republican nominee’s claims about crime. Surprise, surprise.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Elizabeth Preza

Emphasis Mine

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump continuously laments the state of crime in the United States, insisting the problem is “out of control” and alleging our inner cities are comparable to “war zones in countries that we’re fighting.”

He peddled this notion even more last week, posting to Twitter Monday, “Inner-city crime is reaching record levels. African-Americans will vote for Trump because they know I will stop the slaughter going on!” But in his aggressive—albeit shallow—push for black votes, Trump is once again advancing a false narrative that simply doesn’t square with the truth. In short, over the past two decades, violent crime in America’s cities has steadily declined, and nationally, crime remains at historic lows.

In 2015, the Brennan Center for Justice reported that despite a recent uptick of crime in some regions, two-thirds of U.S. cities saw a drop in crime, while overall crime rates remained steady. “The average person in a large urban area is safer walking on the street today than he or she would have been at almost any time in the past 30 years,” authors Ames Grawert and James Cullen wrote.

The Brennan Center report also noted that because murder rates are so low, “a small numerical increase can lead to a large percentage change.” Such is the case in New York City, where, according to the New York Police Department’s crime figures, while murders are up 12 percent this year compared with 2014, they’re still down 82 percent compared with 1993.

One of Trump’s favorite case studies on crime is Chicago, which, along with Baltimore and Washington DC, accounted for more than half of the national increase in murders in 2015. Last week, Trump told his number-one fan girl Bill O’Reilly he could solve the city’s problem “in one week” by putting “people in charge” who are tough on crime. Four days later, the Republican nominee horrified the masses when he patted himself on the back for his illuminated view of Chicago’s deadly streets.

“[NBA star] Dwyane Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago,” Trump tweeted. “Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!”

But while Wade’s tragedy is certainly emblematic of a larger problem in Chicago, it’s hardly representative of the downward trend of violent crime in the rest of the country. And even with the upward tick in violent crime in Chicago in recent years, murder is far from at “record levels,” as Trump insists. In 2015, 493 people were killed in Chicago, which as the Washington Post reports, is “a bit over half of the city’s peak and fewer than were killed at the tail end of the Capone era.”

In its report, the Brennan Center analyzed the factors impacting the rise of crime rates in Chicago, Baltimore and DC. It found the “increases seem to be localized, rather than part of a national pandemic, suggesting that community conditions remain the major factor.” Among the community conditions listed by the center were “falling populations, higher poverty rates, and higher unemployment than the national average.”

“This implies that economic deterioration of these cities could be a contributor to murder increases,” the report reads.

Of course, the nuanced factors contributing to the rise of crime in certain U.S. cities are lost on Trump, whose blanket solution to the problem is to put “the right people in charge.”

But considering this is the same candidate who rattles off erroneous claims about black-on-white crime, and whose plea to black voters took place in front of a predominately white crowd and portrayed blacks—according to the New York Times—“as living lives of utter desperation,” it’s unsurprising that his pitch for “law and order” sounds like B.S. What would be surprising is if voters buy it.

Elizabeth Preza is an AlterNet staff writer focusing on politics, media and cultural criticism. Follow her on Twitter @lizacisms.

 

See: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-flat-out-lies-about-crime-attempt-woo-black-voters?akid=14598.123424.UJv3dV&rd=1&src=newsletter1063057&t=4

This is how fascism comes to America

 Sen. Joseph McCarthy covers the microphones with his hands while having a whispered discussion with Roy Cohn, his chief counsel, during a committee hearing on April 26, 1954, in Washington. | AP Photo

Sen. Joseph McCarthy covers the microphones with his hands while having a whispered discussion with Roy Cohn, his chief counsel, during a committee hearing on April 26, 1954, in Washington. | AP Photo

Source: Washington Post

Author:Robert Kagan

Emphasis Mine

Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist for The Post.

The Republican Party’s attempt to treat Donald Trump as a normal political candidate would be laughable were it not so perilous to the republic. If only he would mouth the party’s “conservative” principles, all would be well.

But of course the entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with policy or ideology. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party, either, except in its historic role as incubator of this singular threat to our democracy. Trump has transcended the party that produced him. His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party. Because it did not immediately and fully embrace Trump, because a dwindling number of its political and intellectual leaders still resist him, the party is regarded with suspicion and even hostility by his followers. Their allegiance is to him and him alone.

And the source of allegiance? We’re supposed to believe that Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others” — Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees — whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up.

That this tough-guy, get-mad-and-get-even approach has gained him an increasingly large and enthusiastic following has probably surprised Trump as much as anyone else. Trump himself is simply and quite literally an egomaniac. But the phenomenon he has created and now leads has become something larger than him, and something far more dangerous.

Republican politicians marvel at how he has “tapped into” a hitherto unknown swath of the voting public. But what he has tapped into is what the founders most feared when they established the democratic republic: the popular passions unleashed, the “mobocracy.” Conservatives have been warning for decades about government suffocating liberty. But here is the other threat to liberty that Alexis de Tocqueville and the ancient philosophers warned about: that the people in a democracy, excited, angry and unconstrained, might run roughshod over even the institutions created to preserve their freedoms. As Alexander Hamilton watched the French Revolution unfold, he feared in America what he saw play out in France — that the unleashing of popular passions would lead not to greater democracy but to the arrival of a tyrant, riding to power on the shoulders of the people.

This phenomenon has arisen in other democratic and quasi-democratic countries over the past century, and it has generally been called “fascism.” Fascist movements, too, had no coherent ideology, no clear set of prescriptions for what ailed society. “National socialism” was a bundle of contradictions, united chiefly by what, and who, it opposed; fascism in Italy was anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, anti-capitalist and anti-clerical. Successful fascism was not about policies but about the strongman, the leader (Il Duce, Der Führer), in whom could be entrusted the fate of the nation. Whatever the problem, he could fix it. Whatever the threat, internal or external, he could vanquish it, and it was unnecessary for him to explain how. Today, there is Putinism, which also has nothing to do with belief or policy but is about the tough man who single-handedly defends his people against all threats, foreign and domestic.

To understand how such movements take over a democracy, one only has to watch the Republican Party today. These movements play on all the fears, vanities, ambitions and insecurities that make up the human psyche. In democracies, at least for politicians, the only thing that matters is what the voters say they want — vox populi vox Dei. A mass political movement is thus a powerful and, to those who would oppose it, frightening weapon. When controlled and directed by a single leader, it can be aimed at whomever the leader chooses. If someone criticizes or opposes the leader, it doesn’t matter how popular or admired that person has been. He might be a famous war hero, but if the leader derides and ridicules his heroism, the followers laugh and jeer. He might be the highest-ranking elected guardian of the party’s most cherished principles. But if he hesitates to support the leader, he faces political death.

In such an environment, every political figure confronts a stark choice: Get right with the leader and his mass following or get run over. The human race in such circumstances breaks down into predictable categories — and democratic politicians are the most predictable. There are those whose ambition leads them to jump on the bandwagon. They praise the leader’s incoherent speeches as the beginning of wisdom, hoping he will reward them with a plum post in the new order. There are those who merely hope to survive. Their consciences won’t let them curry favor so shamelessly, so they mumble their pledges of support, like the victims in Stalin’s show trials, perhaps not realizing that the leader and his followers will get them in the end anyway.

A great number will simply kid themselves, refusing to admit that something very different from the usual politics is afoot. Let the storm pass, they insist, and then we can pick up the pieces, rebuild and get back to normal. Meanwhile, don’t alienate the leader’s mass following. After all, they are voters and will need to be brought back into the fold. As for Trump himself, let’s shape him, advise him, steer him in the right direction and, not incidentally, save our political skins.

What these people do not or will not see is that, once in power, Trump will owe them and their party nothing. He will have ridden to power despite the party, catapulted into the White House by a mass following devoted only to him. By then that following will have grown dramatically. Today, less than 5 percent of eligible voters have voted for Trump. But if he wins the election, his legions will likely comprise a majority of the nation. Imagine the power he would wield then. In addition to all that comes from being the leader of a mass following, he would also have the immense powers of the American presidency at his command: the Justice Department, the FBI, the intelligence services, the military. Who would dare to oppose him then? Certainly not a Republican Party that lay down before him even when he was comparatively weak. And is a man like Trump, with infinitely greater power in his hands, likely to become more humble, more judicious, more generous, less vengeful than he is today, than he has been his whole life? Does vast power un-corrupt?

This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, aphony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac “tapping into” popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party — out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear — falling into line behind him.

See:https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/this-is-how-fascism-comes-to-america/2016/05/17/c4e32c58-1c47-11e6-8c7b-6931e66333e7_story.html?tid=a_inl

The Revolt of the Banana Repubicans

The travesty that unfolded in Cleveland…

Source: Tablet Magazine

Author: James Kirchick

Emphasis Mine

Sitting with me in the van to the airport on my way to Cleveland was a German family. Our driver turned the radio on, and a top-of-the-hour news update rehearsed the familiar litany of American woe. First, an excerpt from a somber speech by President Barack Obama discussing the latest episode of gun violence, this time in Baton Rouge. Next, a reply from Donald Trump, days away from receiving the presidential nomination of the Republican Party, who attacked the president on Twitter for turning the country into “a divided crime scene.” Rounding it out was an item about the Cleveland Police Department’s worry that demonstrators outside the Republican National Convention would take advantage of Ohio’s concealed carry law by arming themselves to the teeth. Listening in the back seat of the van to this recitation of carnage and absurdism, my thoughts drifted immediately to a friend of mine, the Washington correspondent for a major German daily, with whom I had been emailing earlier in the week. He could make a name for himself as a sort of reverse William Shirer, I would tell him, only half-jokingly, chronicling for a German readership the rise of fascism in America.

July 19, 2016, should go down in history as the date the Republican Party deservedly died—“political Jonestown” as the novelist Thomas Mallon called it earlier this month. For that was when the GOP finally nominated Donald Trump for president, officially sanctioning the idea that the fate of the free world ought to be entrusted to an aspiring authoritarian reality television show host. Mallon is an ingenious novelist of historical American political fiction, but I doubt even he could have dreamed up a scenario so bleak as the travesty that unfolded in Cleveland last week, one that, as an agitated observer of the Trump phenomenon, I felt compelled to witness from the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena, or “the Q,” as it is affectionately called.

My sojourn into the madness of Trumplandia began with a Monday noon foray to the “America First Unity Rally” held on the banks of the Cuyahoga River just a few blocks from the convention center. Organized by the conspiracy theory-spouting radio host Alex Jones (whose usual fare consists of claims like juice boxes are part of a government plot to make children gay or that the “chemtrails” from jetliners are elements of a giant mind-control experiment) and Nixon-era political operative Roger Stone, the event had the feel of a Guns ‘n Roses concert put on by the John Birch Society. Over the course of several hours, a motley cast of characters addressed a crowd of about 200 people, all united by grievance toward “the establishment,” a pathological hatred of Hillary Clinton, and an abiding belief that Donald Trump will single-handedly fix America’s problems. The mother of a man murdered by an illegal immigrant shared the heartbreaking story of her son’s death. A black Tea Party activist and perpetual congressional candidate from Maryland reassured the audience that Trump (“an outsider like myself”) is no racist, and closed out his pep talk with a put-down of the “disgusting, disgusted, and busted” presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Musical interludes were provided by a low-rent, right-wing Stevie Nicks lookalike and a 16-year-old Russian immigrant who sang her own song titled “Political Correctness.” John McCain’s Tea Party challenger in the Arizona Republican senate primary railed against a “global tuxedo club” of elitist overlords and declared herself ready and able to “mix the mortar to fix the border.” Offering muscle for the afternoon was “Bikers for Trump,” the leader of which boasted that “we’ve got guys all over the city” to “do whatever’s necessary” to keep the peace.

There exists a vast academic literature on the sociological composition of American voters (at the demonstration, graduate students from a nearby university passed out questionnaires to attendees as part of a research project on the attitudes and backgrounds of Trump supporters). Reams of articles have been written on Trump’s appeal to downscale whites, who appeared to compose the majority of people at the riverside rally (far from all Trump supporters are working class, however; the median income of his voters is $72,000). But there are elements of a candidate’s support base that are unmeasurable, common characteristics that no sociological study or series of polls can reveal. This is particularly true of Trump’s more high-profile backers and official surrogates. Indeed, the degree to which supporters of Donald Trump reflect the candidate in temperament, style, and even diction, across subgroups like gender, race, sexual orientation and class, is remarkable.

The Donald Trump for President campaign has become a fly-trap for seemingly every American dimestore huckster, grifter, scrounger, has-been and wannabe. The roll call of D-list celebrities and politicians who spoke at the convention, along with the raft of lesser-known opportunists and frauds who decided to become Trumpkins so as to get on TV, resembles a list of fictional characters from the collected works of Billy Joel. Scott Baio, Antonio Sabato Jr., and Robert Davi embody the distinctly bridge and tunnel, alpha-male thuggishness of Trump’s “celebrity” support. Scott Brown, whose political career crashed and burned years ago after a brief stint as senator from Massachusetts, enlisted himself with Trump in hopes of escaping life as a hawker of diet supplements, ironically the perfect preparation for a snake-oil dispensing presidential campaign. (Brown, unsurprisingly, brought along to the convention his aging local news anchor wife and daughter, a former contestant on American Idol and budding starlet.)

The porcine duo of Newt Gingrich and Dick Morris, both of whom waddled past me on the convention’s first day, are physical manifestations of what the Republican Party has become under Trump, whose fleshy jowls at times render him indistinguishable from a bullfrog. Unlike the fit and trim House Speaker Paul Ryan, a visibly reluctant Trump supporter who clearly would have rather spent the entirety of last week in a dentist’s chair, Gingrich and Morris are engorged, mercenary, and utterly lacking in self-control, as willing to stick whole plates of food down their gullets or reach for the nearest “beautiful piece of ass” (or prostitute’s toe) as they are ready to adapt their principles to the moment. Listen to Eric Trump talk about his father’s future cabinet and you get the gist of the intellectually hollow, wise-guy chutzpah that exists in place of a governing ideology or worldview for those who’ve chosen to degrade themselves by supporting Trump. “If we’re going to have the biggest deals in the world, which are trade deals, why not have the best guys negotiate this?” he told The Hill, as if taking a sip from his tall boy on the LIRR. “Why not have the Carl Icahns or the top guys of Wall Street? It’s why they’re worth millions and billions of dollars. It’s because they’re tough and they’re shrewd.”

Reflecting the outsider status of its sponsors Jones and Stone, the “America First” rally initially seemed to be a gathering of people too wacky to speak from the convention stage. But it became readily apparent Monday evening that the themes of this “shadow” convention would, in fact, be parroted by the ostensibly more respectable delegates inside the Q.

The night began with a benediction from Brooklyn priest Kieran Harrington, who, head bowed, made reference to “deliberations,” declared “we stand before you, contrite,” and asked the Lord to “bless those who endured torture,” sentiments completely at odds with those expressed by the man about to receive the crowd’s enthusiastic nomination for president. Following that uncharacteristically humble opening, the message of the evening proceeded as follows: Mexicans and Muslims want to rape and kill you. Relatives of people murdered by illegal immigrants joined people like Pat Smith, mother of a foreign service officer killed in the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, in a festival of fear and loathing.

It would have been one thing if this shameless retailing of victimhood (something conservatives usually blame liberals for doing) was limited to tales of self-pity. What made it truly terrifying were the calls for blood. At the “America First” rally earlier in the day, I had seen dozens of people sporting “Hillary for Prison” T-shirts, what I took at the time to be nothing more than a token of Roger Stone’s virulent mischief. Inside the hall, I was appalled to hear, repeatedly and on every night of the convention, delegates cry “Lock her up!” whenever Clinton’s name was mentioned. It was an exhortation issued directly from the stage. Darryl Glenn, a senate candidate in Colorado, declared that Clinton should be outfitted in a “bright orange jumpsuit.” Pat Smith, who, in the exploitation of her grief the right has fashioned into its own Cindy Sheehan, insisted that the former secretary of state “deserves to be in stripes.”

The degeneration of the Republicans into banana Republicans reached its apotheosis on Wednesday evening, when Chris Christie, apparently worried that his reputation as a fat creep hadn’t yet taken hold within the minds of a majority of Americans, led the crowd in a call-and-response show trial-cum-lynch mob. Going through a laundry list of Hillary Clinton’s alleged crimes, the former federal prosecutor ended each accusation with the question, “Guilty or not guilty?” Most of Christie’s charge sheet consisted of political initiatives like the Russian reset and opening to Cuba, which, whatever their wisdom (and I, for what it’s worth, think they lacked it), had not the faintest whiff of criminality. But none of this mattered to the Jersey boy play-acting as Red Army hanging judge.

On the surface, the proliferation of anti-Hillary revenge fantasies smelled like the work of Paul Manafort. Trump’s roguishly handsome campaign manager spent years working as a consultant to former strongman president of Ukraine and Vladimir Putin ally Viktor Yanukovych, who in addition to stealing vast amounts of money from the public purse, was also famous for locking up his major political opponent. If Clinton weren’t imprisoned under a Trump regime, I cynically speculated, she might become the victim of dioxin poisoning, the fate that mysteriously befell Yanukovych’s other main rival.

But the single-minded obsession with throwing Clinton behind bars is an organic malady rather than a Manafortian import. It’s but one of many fixations that used to exist on the right-wing fringe but which the GOP decided to place front and center as part of its policy agenda. Last week’s convention saw an entire alternative media and political ecosystem (a potpourri of websites, podcasts, radio talk shows, and personalities like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter) take control of the party apparatus and dictate its own version of reality. Trump’s followers inhabit an America in which “SJWs” (social justice warriors) make life intolerable for white men, where unsuspecting individuals are forced to watch a feminist Ghostbustersmovie like Alex was subjected to audiovisual torture in A Clockwork Orange, and everyone must dodge a proliferating number of Mexican and Muslim rapists and murderers. When Uday and Qusay Trump ceremoniously announced the votes of the New York delegation, and the light board in the rafters flashed “OVER THE TOP!” it was more than just a literal description of Trump’s campaign.

***

With the ritualized incantations of approved slogans, resolute messaging from the dais and deification of the candidate, political party conventions are the closest America comes to the one-party state. In this respect, the Donald did not disappoint. A biographical video that was more “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” than “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” praised him for “dominating” the world of real estate and, now, politics. As an image flashed by of Trump in a ridiculously oversized top coat waving his hands at a crew of actors posing as hard-hatted construction workers, I was reminded of the parody website “Kim Jong Un Looking at Things,” which features photos of the North Korean dictator hectoring generals and inspecting random objects like an airport lounge table or processed food machinery.

With Trump, however, the authoritarian milieu extends beyond the mere aesthetic. It’s not unusual for a presidential candidate to showcase his attractive family. But never before has the nominee’s progeny played a more crucial role in a campaign, with the promise that they will play a crucial role in the future administration—the sort of dynastic nepotism one expects in a Third World country. I’ve lost track of the number of Trump supporters who cite his children as a chief reason for their support of the man; Maureen Reagan, Meghan McCain, and the five Romney boys never inspired such fawning.

Supporting Trump is an inherently masochistic act, and not only because one must surrender his conscience to do so. It is a form of intellectual and moral surrender. “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” Trump declared, in the most chilling and terrifying line of his acceptance speech. Trump’s tacit admission of corruption was paired with the implication that, if elected, he would be corrupt on behalf of the American people. This, I believe, is why the never-ending stream of stories attesting to his gross deceit and venality has done, and will do, nothing to dissuade his hypnotized supporters. Buddy Cianci, the tough guy former mayor of Providence, had a similar appeal, earning high approval ratings not in spite of, but because of his corruption: Citizens thought he was greasing the wheels to “get things done” for their city. A pair of political scientists even wrote a research paper on the phenomenon, titled “Popular Rogues.” But even if Trump could boast Cianci’s record of achievement in public office, which he can’t, his sins are far greater than those of the racketeering ex-mayor of the Renaissance City.

Overpromising is nothing new in politics, but Trump takes it to another level. He is a political alchemist whose followers longingly see him as a Rumpelstiltskin ready to spin their hay into gold. “Come January 17, all things will be possible again,” promised the alluring and attractive Ivanka Trump, sounding (and looking) nothing so much like one of those models in a television ad for a phone-sex line (and curiously choosing the date three days before the inauguration as that of America’s salvation). When Trump took the stage, his promises repeatedly brought the audience to its feet. “The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end,” he declared. “Beginning on January 20, 2017, safety will be restored.”

“I am going to turn our bad trade agreements into great ones.”

“I am not going to let companies move to other countries, firing their employees along the way, without consequences.”

“I’m going to make our country rich again.”

I, I, I. But nothing about how.

Hours before Trump’s address, Manafort tried to explain how his candidate would appeal to women. “They can’t afford their lives,” he told MSNBC. “Their husbands can’t afford paying the family bills.” A similar explanation has been offered for President Vladimir Putin’s popularity with Russian women, many of whom lack a father figure or reliable husbands, having lost them to the bottle. Trump’s repeated avowals of being a singularly transformative figure (“I alone”) make his predecessor’s prediction of lowered sea levels upon his own election look tame by comparison. A party that spent the past eight years lambasting Obama’s expansion of executive powers lost all credibility as I stood among a sea of people imploring an aspiring authoritarian to “Keep us safe!”

There is an unspoken social contract in democratic politics: Candidates should not overtly appeal to citizens’ basest instincts. As citizens in the world’s oldest constitutional democracy, we place a great deal of faith in the judgment of individuals, trusting that they would never willingly elect a tyrant to power. And thankfully, there are multiple, mediating institutions in our system of republican government to prevent a single individual or movement from assuming absolute control. But what if a totally unscrupulous demagogue—one with undeniable charisma and mass media appeal—comes along and decides that the unspoken social contract, like every other rule he has ever encountered, does not apply to him?

That is what Donald Trump has done: He has broken the social contract between the American people and their political leaders by banking on the assumption that unvarnished nativism, bigotry, and ignorance will win him the presidency.

Even worse, Trump has been rewarded by purportedly responsible and reasonable people, people whom I once respected and had to watch barking like seals as this madman and would-be tyrant brought them up to their feet again and again with his empty promises of salvific national recovery. When the delegates cheered him, did they think about the time he ridiculed John McCain for being “captured?” For me, like many others, that was the first moment I thought, “it’s over” for Trump. How many insults, stunning professions of ignorance, and outrageous revelations ago was that “gaffe”?

As they rose to hoot and holler, did the Republicans in Cleveland remember, even in the distant recesses of their minds, when he mocked a physically handicapped reporter? Did they recall the many loathsome remarks he made about women, or the praise he offered the Chinese communists for running their tanks over people in Tiananmen Square, or the encouragement he bestowed—just a day prior—upon Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruthless purge? The morning after accepting their nomination, when Trump—citing a supermarket tabloid—once again speculated that Ted Cruz’s father had been involved in the JFK assassination, did they reflect upon what enabling a plainly demented individual says about their patriotism? Did these latter-day Pontius Pilates, many of whom pridefully advertise themselves as adherents of Judeo-Christian faith, pause a moment to consider what their ancient texts say about the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, about those who lust for power at the expense of everything else? I hope they did, and that they felt at least a pang of guilt at their participation in this moral obscenity masking itself as an exercise in American democracy.

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Understanding Trump

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Source: Huff Post

Author: George Lakoff

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.:The nomination of Trump has provided an incredible vindication for George Lakoff’s insights into American politics.  This is a very informative and valuable essay, which should be read and understood by all progressives – one might recall the Donald’s acceptance speech while reading.  At the “end of the day”, we must work hard to win, and the harder we work, the more we will win.)

There is a lot being written spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon. This perspective is hardly unknown. More that half a million people have read my books, and Google Scholar reports that scholars writing in scholarly journals have cited my works well over 100,000 times.

As a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon.

Yet you will probably not read what I have to say in the New York Times, nor hear it from your favorite political commentators. You will also not hear it from Democratic candidates or party strategists. There are reasons, and we will discuss them later this piece. I am writing it because I think it is right and it is needed, even though it comes from the cognitive and brain sciences, not from the normal political sources. I think it is imperative to bring these considerations into public political discourse. But it cannot be done in a 650-word op-ed. My apologies. It is untweetable.

I will begin with an updated version of an earlier piece on who is supporting Trump and why — and why policy details are irrelevant to them. I then move to a section on how Trump uses your brain against you. I finish up discussing how Democratic campaigns could do better, and why they need to do better if we are to avert a Trump presidency.

Who Supports Trump and Why

Donald J. Trump has managed to become the Republican nominee for president, Why? How? There are various theories: People are angry and he speaks to their anger. People don’t think much of Congress and want a non-politician. Both may be true. But why? What are the details? And Why Trump?

He seems to have come out of nowhere. His positions on issues don’t fit a common mold.

He has said nice things about LGBTQ folks, which is not standard Republican talk. Republicans hate eminent domain (the taking of private property by the government) and support corporate outsourcing for the sake of profit, but he has the opposite views on both. He is not religious and scorns religious practices, yet the Evangelicals (that is, the white Evangelicals) love him. He thinks health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, as well as military contractors, are making too much profit and wants to change that. He insults major voting groups, e.g., Latinos, when most Republicans are trying to court them. He wants to deport 11 million immigrants without papers and thinks he can. He wants to stop Muslims from entering the country. What is going on?

The answer requires a bit of background.

In the 1900s, as part of my research in the cognitive and brain sciences, I undertook to answer a question in my field: How do the various policy positions of conservatives and progressives hang together? Take conservatism: What does being against abortion have to do with being for owning guns? What does owning guns have to do with denying the reality of global warming? How does being anti-government fit with wanting a stronger military? How can you be pro-life and for the death penalty? Progressives have the opposite views. How do their views hang together?

The answer came from a realization that we tend to understand the nation metaphorically in family terms: We have founding fathers. We send our sons and daughters to war. We have homeland security. The conservative and progressive worldviews dividing our country can most readily be understood in terms of moral worldviews that are encapsulated in two very different common forms of family life: The Nurturant Parent family (progressive) and the Strict Father family (conservative).

(N.B.: it has been noted that the most common characteristic of Trump supporters is that they support an authoritarian outlook.)

What do social issues and the politics have to do with the family? We are first governed in our families, and so we grow up understanding governing institutions in terms of the governing systems of families.

In the strict father family, father knows best. He knows right from wrong and has the ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what he says, which is taken to be what is right. Many conservative spouses accept this worldview, uphold the father’s authority, and are strict in those realms of family life that they are in charge of. When his children disobey, it is his moral duty to punish them painfully enough so that, to avoid punishment, they will obey him (do what is right) and not just do what feels good. Through physical discipline they are supposed to become disciplined, internally strong, and able to prosper in the external world. What if they don’t prosper? That means they are not disciplined, and therefore cannot be moral, and so deserve their poverty. This reasoning shows up in conservative politics in which the poor are seen as lazy and undeserving, and the rich as deserving their wealth. Responsibility is thus taken to be personal responsibility not social responsibility. What you become is only up to you; society has nothing to do with it. You are responsible for yourself, not for others — who are responsible for themselves.

Winning and Insulting

As the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, said, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” In a world governed by personal responsibility and discipline, those who win deserve to win. Why does Donald Trump publicly insult other candidates and political leaders mercilessly? Quite simply, because he knows he can win an onstage TV insult game. In strict conservative eyes, that makes him a formidable winning candidate who deserves to be a winning candidate. Electoral competition is seen as a battle. Insults that stick are seen as victories — deserved victories.

Electoral competition is seen as a battle. Insults that stick are seen as victories — deserved victories.

Consider Trump’s statement that John McCain is not a war hero. The reasoning: McCain got shot down. Heroes are winners. They defeat big bad guys. They don’t get shot down. People who get shot down, beaten up, and stuck in a cage are losers, not winners.

The Moral Hierarchy

The strict father logic extends further. The basic idea is that authority is justified by morality (the strict father version), and that, in a well-ordered world, there should be (and traditionally has been) a moral hierarchy in which those who have traditionally dominated should dominate. The hierarchy is: God above Man, Man above Nature, The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined (Weak), The Rich above the Poor, Employers above Employees, Adults above Children, Western culture above other cultures, America above other countries. The hierarchy extends to: Men above women, Whites above Nonwhites, Christians above nonChristians, Straights above Gays.

We see these tendencies in most of the Republican presidential candidates, as well as in Trump, and on the whole, conservative policies flow from the strict father worldview and this hierarchy

Family-based moral worldviews run deep. Since people want to see themselves as doing right not wrong, moral worldviews tend to be part of self-definition — who you most deeply are. And thus your moral worldview defines for you what the world should be like. When it isn’t that way, one can become frustrated and angry.

There is a certain amount of wiggle room in the strict father worldview and there are important variations. A major split is among (1) white Evangelical Christians, (2) laissez-fair free market conservatives, and (3) pragmatic conservatives who are not bound by evangelical beliefs.

White Evangelicals

Those whites who have a strict father personal worldview and who are religious tend toward Evangelical Christianity, since God, in Evangelical Christianity, is the Ultimate Strict Father: You follow His commandments and you go to heaven; you defy His commandments and you burn in hell for all eternity. If you are a sinner and want to go to heaven, you can be ‘born again” by declaring your fealty by choosing His son, Jesus Christ, as your personal Savior.

Such a version of religion is natural for those with strict father morality. Evangelical Christians join the church because they are conservative; they are not conservative because they happen to be in an evangelical church, though they may grow up with both together.

Evangelical Christianity is centered around family life. Hence, there are organizations like Focus on the Family and constant reference to “family values,” which are to take to be evangelical strict father values. In strict father morality, it is the father who controls sexuality and reproduction. Where the church has political control, there are laws that require parental and spousal notification in the case of proposed abortions.

Evangelicals are highly organized politically and exert control over a great many local political races. Thus Republican candidates mostly have to go along with the evangelicals if they want to be nominated and win local elections.

Pragmatic Conservatives

Pragmatic conservatives, on the other hand, may not have a religious orientation at all. Instead, they may care primarily about their own personal authority, not the authority of the church or Christ, or God. They want to be strict fathers in their own domains, with authority primarily over their own lives. Thus, a young, unmarried conservative — male or female —may want to have sex without worrying about marriage. They may need access to contraception, advice about sexually transmitted diseases, information about cervical cancer, and so on. And if a girl or woman becomes pregnant and there is no possibility or desire for marriage, abortion may be necessary.

Trump is a pragmatic conservative, par excellence. And he knows that there are a lot of Republican voters who are like him in their pragmatism. There is a reason that he likes Planned Parenthood. There are plenty of young, unmarried (or even married) pragmatic conservatives, who may need what Planned Parenthood has to offer — cheaply and confidentially by way of contraception, cervical cancer prevention, and sex ed.

Young or middle-aged pragmatic conservatives want to maximize their own wealth… That is why Trump wants to keep Social Security and Medicare.

Similarly, young or middle-aged pragmatic conservatives want to maximize their own wealth. They don’t want to be saddled with the financial burden of caring for their parents. Social Security and Medicare relieve them of most of those responsibilities. That is why Trump wants to keep Social Security and Medicare.

Laissez-faire Free Marketeers

Establishment conservative policies have not only been shaped by the political power of white evangelical churches, but also by the political power of those who seek maximally laissez-faire free markets, where wealthy people and corporations set market rules in their favor with minimal government regulation and enforcement. They see taxation not as investment in publicly provided resources for all citizens, but as government taking their earnings (their private property) and giving the money through government programs to those who don’t deserve it. This is the source of establishment Republicans’ anti-tax and shrinking government views. This version of conservatism is quite happy with outsourcing to increase profits by sending manufacturing and many services abroad where labor is cheap, with the consequence that well-paying jobs leave America and wages are driven down here. Since they depend on cheap imports, they would not be in favor of imposing high tariffs.

But Donald Trump is not in a business that makes products abroad to import here and mark up at a profit. As a developer, he builds hotels, casinos, office buildings, golf courses. He may build them abroad with cheap labor but he doesn’t import them. Moreover, he recognizes that most small business owners in America are more like him — American businesses like dry cleaners, pizzerias, diners, plumbers, hardware stores, gardeners, contractors, car washers, and professionals like architects, lawyers, doctors, and nurses. High tariffs don’t look like a problem.

Many business people are pragmatic conservatives. They like government power when it works for them. Take eminent domain. Establishment Republicans see it as an abuse by government — government taking of private property. But conservative real estate developers like Trump depend on eminent domain so that homes and small businesses in areas they want to develop can be taken by eminent domain for the sake of their development plans. All they have to do is get local government officials to go along, with campaign contributions and the promise of an increase in local tax dollars helping to acquire eminent domain rights. Trump points to Atlantic City, where he build his casino using eminent domain to get the property.

If businesses have to pay for their employees’ health care benefits, Trump would want them to have to pay as little as possible to maximize profits for businesses in general. He would therefore want health insurance and pharmaceutical companies to charge as little as possible. To increase competition, he would want insurance companies to offer plans nationally, avoiding the state-run exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The exchanges are there to maximize citizen health coverage, and help low-income people get coverage, rather than to increase business profits. Trump does however want to keep the mandatory feature of ACA, which establishment conservatives hate since they see it as government overreach, forcing people to buy a product. For Trump, however, the mandatory feature for individuals increases the insurance pool and brings down costs for businesses.

Direct vs. Systemic Causation

Direct causation is dealing with a problem via direct action. Systemic causation recognizes that many problems arise from the system they are in and must be dealt with via systemic causation. Systemic causation has four versions: A chain of direct causes. Interacting direct causes (or chains of direct causes). Feedback loops. And probabilistic causes. Systemic causation in global warming explains why global warming over the Pacific can produce huge snowstorms in Washington DC: masses of highly energized water molecules evaporate over the Pacific, blow to the Northeast and over the North Pole and come down in winter over the East coast and parts of the Midwest as masses of snow. Systemic causation has chains of direct causes, interacting causes, feedback loops, and probabilistic causes — often combined.

Direct causation is easy to understand, and appears to be represented in the grammars of all languages around the world. Systemic causation is more complex and is not represented in the grammar of any language. It just has to be learned.

Empirical research has shown that conservatives tend to reason with direct causation and that progressives have a much easier time reasoning with systemic causation. The reason is thought to be that, in the strict father model, the father expects the child or spouse to respond directly to an order and that refusal should be punished as swiftly and directly as possible.

Many of Trump’s policy proposals are framed in terms of direct causation.

Immigrants are flooding in from Mexico — build a wall to stop them. For all the immigrants who have entered illegally, just deport them — even if there are 11 million of them working throughout the economy and living throughout the country. The cure for gun violence is to have a gun ready to directly shoot the shooter. To stop jobs from going to Asia where labor costs are lower and cheaper goods flood the market here, the solution is direct: put a huge tariff on those goods so they are more expensive than goods made here. To save money on pharmaceuticals, have the largest consumer — the government — take bids for the lowest prices. If Isis is making money on Iraqi oil, send US troops to Iraq to take control of the oil. Threaten Isis leaders by assassinating their family members (even if this is a war crime). To get information from terrorist suspects, use water-boarding, or even worse torture methods. If a few terrorists might be coming with Muslim refugees, just stop allowing all Muslims into the country. All this makes sense to direct causation thinkers, but not those who see the immense difficulties and dire consequences of such actions due to the complexities of systemic causation.

Political Correctness

There are at least tens of millions of conservatives in America who share strict father morality and its moral hierarchy. Many of them are poor or middle class and many are white men who see themselves as superior to immigrants, nonwhites, women, nonChristians, gays — and people who rely on public assistance. In other words, they are what liberals would call “bigots.” For many years, such bigotry has not been publicly acceptable, especially as more immigrants have arrived, as the country has become less white, as more women have become educated and moved into the workplace, and as gays have become more visible and gay marriage acceptable.

As liberal anti-bigotry organizations have loudly pointed out… bigotry, those conservatives have felt more and more oppressed by what they call ‘political correctness.’

As liberal anti-bigotry organizations have loudly pointed out and made a public issue of the unAmerican nature of such bigotry, those conservatives have felt more and more oppressed by what they call “political correctness” — public pressure against their views and against what they see as “free speech.” This has become exaggerated since 911, when anti-Muslim feelings became strong. The election of President Barack Hussein Obama created outrage among those conservatives, and they refused to see him as a legitimate American (as in the birther movement), much less as a legitimate authority, especially as his liberal views contradicted almost everything else they believe as conservatives.

Donald Trump expresses out loud everything they feel — with force, aggression, anger, and no shame. All they have to do is support and vote for Trump and they don’t even have to express their ‘politically incorrect’ views, since he does it for them and his victories make those views respectable. He is their champion. He gives them a sense of self-respect, authority, and the possibility of power.

Whenever you hear the words “political correctness” remember this.

Biconceptuals

There is no middle in American politics. There are moderates, but there is no ideology of the moderate, no single ideology that all moderates agree on. A moderate conservative has some progressive positions on issues, though they vary from person to person. Similarly, a moderate progressive has some conservative positions on issues, again varying from person to person. In short, moderates have both political moral worldviews, but mostly use one of them. Those two moral worldviews in general contradict each other. How can they reside in the same brain at the same time?

Both are characterized in the brain by neural circuitry. They are linked by a commonplace circuit: mutual inhibition. When one is turned on the other is turned off; when one is strengthened, the other is weakened. What turns them on or off? Language that fits that worldview activates that worldview, strengthening it, while turning off the other worldview and weakening it. The more Trump’s views are discussed in the media, the more they are activated and the stronger they get, both in the minds of hardcore conservatives and in the minds of moderate progressives.

This is true even if you are attacking Trump’s views. The reason is that negating a frame activates that frame, as I pointed out in the book Don’t Think of an Elephant!It doesn’t matter if you are promoting Trump or attacking Trump, you are helping Trump.

A good example of Trump winning with progressive biconceptuals includes certain unionized workers. Many union members are strict fathers at home or in their private life. They believe in “traditional family values” — a conservative code word — and they may identify with winners.

Why Has Trump won the Republican nomination? Look at all the conservative groups he appeals to!

Why His Lack of Policy Detail Doesn’t Matter

I recently heard a brilliant and articulate Clinton surrogate argue against a group of Trump supporters that Trump has presented no policy plans for increasing jobs, increasing economics growth, improving education, gaining international respect, etc. This is the basic Clinton campaign argument. Hillary has the experience, the policy know-how, she can get things done, it’s all on her website. Trump has none of this. What Hillary’s campaign says is true. And it is irrelevant.

Trump supporters and other radical Republican extremists could not care less, and for a good reason. Their job is to impose their view of strict father morality in all areas of life. If they have the Congress, and the Presidency and the Supreme Court, they could achieve this. They don’t need to name policies, because the Republicans already of hundreds of policies ready to go. They just need to be in complete power.

How Trump Uses Your Brain to His Advantage

Any unscrupulous, effective salesman knows how to use you brain against you, to get you to buy what he is selling. How can someone “use your brain against you?” What does it mean?

All thought uses neural circuitry. Every idea is constituted by neural circuitry. But we have no conscious access to that circuitry. As a result, most of thought — an estimated 98 percent of thought is unconscious. Conscious thought is the tip of the iceberg.

Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, celebrity.

The mechanisms are:

1. Repetition. Words are neurally linked to the circuits the determine their meaning. The more a word is heard, the more the circuit is activated and the stronger it gets, and so the easier it is to fire again. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We’re gonna win so much you’ll get tired of winning.

2. Framing: Crooked Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating makes many people unconsciously think of her that way, even though she has been found to have been honest and legal by thorough studies by the right-wing Bengazi committee (which found nothing) and the FBI (which found nothing to charge her with, except missing the mark ‘(C)’ in the body of 3 out of 110,000 emails). Yet the framing is working.

There is a common metaphor that Immorality Is Illegality, and that acting against Strict Father Morality (the only kind off morality recognized) is being immoral. Since virtually everything Hillary Clinton has ever done has violated Strict Father Morality, that makes her immoral. The metaphor thus makes her actions immoral, and hence she is a crook. The chant “Lock her up!” activates this whole line of reasoning.

3. Well-known examples: When a well-publicized disaster happens, the coverage activates the framing of it over and over, strengthening it, and increasing the probability that the framing will occur easily with high probability. Repeating examples of shootings by Muslims, African-Americans, and Latinos raises fears that it could happen to you and your community — despite the miniscule actual probability. Trump uses this to create fear. Fear tends to activate desire for a strong strict father — namely, Trump.

4. Grammar: Radical Islamic terrorists: “Radical” puts Muslims on a linear scale and “terrorists” imposes a frame on the scale, suggesting that terrorism is built into the religion itself. The grammar suggests that there is something about Islam that has terrorism inherent in it. Imagine calling the Charleston gunman a “radical Republican terrorist.”

Trump is aware this to at least some extent. As he said to Tony Schwartz, the ghost-writer who wrote The Art of the Deal for him, “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and it’s a very effective form of promotion.”

5. Conventional metaphorical thought is inherent in our largely unconscious thought. Such normal modes of metaphorical thinking that are not noticed as such.

Consider Brexit, which used the metaphor of “entering” and “leaving” the EU. There is a universal metaphor that states are locations in space: you can enter a state, be deep in some state, and come out that state. If you enter a café and then leave the café , you will be in the same location as before you entered. But that need not be true of states of being. But that was the metaphor used with Brexist; Britons believe that after leaving the EU, things would be as before when the entered the EU. They were wrong. Things changed radically while they were in the EU. That same metaphor is being used by Trump: Make America Great Again. Make America Safe Again. And so on. As if there was some past ideal state that we can go back to just by electing Trump.

6. There is also a metaphor that A Country Is a Person and a metonymy of the President Standing For the Country. Thus, Obama, via both metaphor and metonymy, can stand conceptually for America. Therefore, by saying that Obama is weak and not respected, it is communicated that America, with Obama as president, is weak and disrespected. The inference is that it is because of Obama.

7. The country as person metaphor and the metaphor that war or conflict between countries is a fistfight between people, leads the inference that just having a strong president will guarantee that America will win conflicts and wars. Trump will just throw knockout punches. In his acceptance speech at the convention, Trump repeatedly said that he would accomplish things that can only be done by the people acting with their government. After one such statement, there was a chant from the floor, “He will do it.”

8. The metaphor that The nation Is a Family was used throughout the GOP convention. We heard that strong military sons are produced by strong military fathers and that “defense of country is a family affair.” From Trump’s love of family and commitment to their success, we are to conclude that, as president he will love America’s citizens and be committed to the success of all.

9. There is a common metaphor that Identifying with your family’s national heritage makes you a member of that nationality. Suppose your grandparents came from Italy and you identify with your Italian ancestors, you may proud state that you are Italian. The metaphor is natural. Literally, you have been American for two generations. Trump made use of this commonplace metaphor in attacking US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is American, born and raised in the United States. Trump said he was a Mexican, and therefore would hate him and tend to rule against him in a case brought against Trump University for fraud.

10. Then there is the metaphor system used in the phrase “to call someone out.” First the word “out.” There is a general metaphor that Knowing Is Seeing as in “I see what you mean.” Things that are hidden inside something cannot be seen and hence not known, while things are not hidden but out in public can be seen and hence known. To “out” someone is to made their private knowledge public. To “call someone out” is to publicly name someone’s hidden misdeeds, thus allowing for public knowledge and appropriate consequences.

This is the basis for the Trumpian metaphor that Naming is Identifying. Thus naming your enemies will allow you to identify correctly who they are, get to them, and so allow you to defeat them. Hence, just saying “radical Islamic terrorists” allows you to pick them out, get at them, and annihilate them. And conversely, if you don’t say it, you won’t be able to pick them out and annihilate them. Thus a failure to use those words means that you are protecting those enemies — in this case Muslims, that is, potential terrorists because of their religion.

I’ll stop here, though I could go on. Here are ten uses of people’s unconscious normal brain mechanisms that are manipulated by Trump and his followers for his overriding purpose: to be elected president, to be given absolute authority with a Congress and Supreme Court, and so to have his version of Strict Famer Morality govern America into the indefinite future.

These ten forms of using with people’s everyday brain mechanisms for his own purposes have gotten Trump the Republican nomination. But millions more people have seen and heard Trump and company on tv and heard them on the radio. The media pundits have not described those ten mechanisms, or other brain mechanisms, that surreptitiously work on the unconscious minds of the public, even though the result is that Big Lies repeated over and over are being believed by a growing number of people.

Even if he loses the election, Trump will have changed the brains of millions of Americans, with future consequences. It is vitally important people know the mechanisms used to transmit Big Lies and to stick them into people’s brains without their awareness. It is a form of mind control.

People in the media have a duty to report it when the see it. But the media comes with constraints.

Certain things have not been allowed in public political discourse in the media. Reporters and commentators are supposed to stick to what is conscious and with literal meaning. But most real political discourse makes use of unconscious thought, which shapes conscious thought via unconscious framing and commonplace conceptual metaphors. It is crucial, for the history of the country and the world, as well as the planet, that all of this be made public.

And it is not just the media, Such responsibility rests with ordinary citizens who become aware of unconscious brain mechanisms like the ten we have just discussed. This responsibility also rests with the Democratic Party and their campaigns at all levels.

Is the use of the public’s brain mechanisms for communication necessarily immoral? Understanding how people really think can be used to communicate truths, not Big Lies or ads for products.

This knowledge is not just known to cognitive linguists. It is taught in Marketing courses in business schools, and the mechanisms are used in advertising, to get you to buy what advertisers are selling. We have learned to recognize ads; they are set off by themselves. Even manipulative corporate advertising with political intent (like ads for fracking) is not as dangerous as Big Lies leading to authoritarian government determining the future of our country.

How Can Democrats Do Better?

First, don’t think of an elephant. Remember not to repeat false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts. Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.

Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. Use history. That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system. From the beginning, the Private Depended on Public Resources, both private lives and private enterprise.

Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities and research support: computer science (via the NSF), the internet (ARPA), pharmaceuticals and modern medicine (the NIH), satellite communication (NASA and NOA), and GPS systems and cell phones (the Defense Department). Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has. Almost no other public figures. And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people, Americans, the American people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.

The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.

And don’t forget the police. Effective respectful policing is a public resource. Chief David O. Brown of the Dallas Police got it right. Training, community policing, knowing the people you protect. And don’t ask too much of the police: citizens have a responsibility to provide funding so that police don’t have to do jobs that should be done by others.

Unions need to go on the offensive. Unions are instruments of freedom — freedom from corporate servitude. Employers call themselves job creators. Working people are profit creators for the employers, and as such they deserve a fair share of the profits and respect and acknowledgement. Say it. Can the public create jobs. Of course. Fixing infrastructure will create jobs by providing more public resources that private lives and businesses depend on. Public resources to create more public resources. Freedom creates opportunity that creates more freedom.

Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches. One can speak powerfully without shouting. Obama sets the pace: Civility, values, positivity, good humor, and real empathy are powerful. Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful. Bill Clinton won because he oozed empathy, with his voice, his eye contact, and his body. It wasn’t his superb ability as a policy wonk, but the empathy he projected and inspired.

Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values.

Give up identity politics. No more women’s issues, black issues, Latino issues. Their issues are all real, and need public discussion. But they all fall under freedom issues, human issues. And address poor whites! Appalachian and rust belt whites deserve your attention as much as anyone else. Don’t surrender their fate to Trump, who will just increase their suffering.

And remember JFK’s immortal, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Empathy, devotion, love, pride in our country’s values, public resources to create freedoms. And adulthood.

Be prepared. You have to understand Trump to stand calmly up to him and those running with him all over the country.

___

George Lakoff is Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley. His most recent book is The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant! His previous books on politics and social issues are Moral Politics (1996, 2002), Don’t Think of an Elephant! (2004), Whose Freedom? (2008), The Political Mind (2008), and The Little Blue Book, with Elisabeth Wehling (2012). The third edition of Moral Politics will be published in September in time for the 2016 election.

This Blogger’s Books and Other Items from…

The ALL NEW Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate
by George Lakoff

Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think

Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think
by George Lakoff

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lakoff/understanding-trump_b_11144938.html

Most Women Are Crystal Clear About Trump: He Is Their Worst Nightmare

Millions of women see through him, even if the media don’t.

"For the apparel oft proclaims the man,"
“For the apparel oft proclaims the man,”

Source:AlterNet

Author: Ann Jones/Tom Dispatch

Emphasis Mine

Last fall, when presidential wannabe Donald Trump famously boasted on CNN that he would “be the best thing that ever happened to women,” some may have fallen for it. Millions of women, however, reacted with laughter, irritation, disgust, and no little nausea.  For while the media generate a daily fog of Trumpisms, speculating upon the meaning and implications of the man’s every incoherent utterance, a great many women, schooled by experience, can see right through the petty tyrant and his nasty bag of tricks.

By March, the often hard-earned wisdom of such women was reflected in a raft of public opinion polls in which an extraordinary number of female voters registered an “unfavorable” or “negative” impression of the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee.  Reporting on Trump’s “rock-bottom ratings” with prospective women voters, Politico termed the unfavorable poll numbers—67% (Fox News), 67% (Quinnipiac University), 70% (NBC/Wall Street Journal), 73% (ABC/Washington Post)—“staggering.” In April, the Daily Wire labeled similar results in a Bloombergpoll of married women likely to vote in the general election “amazing.” Seventy percent of them stated that they would not vote for Trump.

(N.B.: this continues in mid june – see http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/new-poll-shows-70-percent-voters-hold-unfavorable-opinion-trump?akid=14352.123424.ieuKQ6&rd=1&src=newsletter1058386&t=2)

His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, seemed untroubled by such polls, claiming that “women don’t vote based on gender” but on “competency,” apparently convinced that it was only a matter of time before female voters awoke to the dazzling competency of his candidate.

Think again, Mr. Lewandowski. Since at least the 1970s, women have been voting on the basis of gender—not that of the presidential candidates (all men), but their own.  Historically, women and children have been more likely than men to benefit from the sorts of social welfare programs generally backed by Democrats, including Aid to Families with Dependent Children.  Even after, in the 1990s, both parties connived to scale back or shut down such programs, a majority of women stayed with Democrats who advocated positions like equal pay for equal work, reproductive rights, improved early childhood education, affordable health care, universal child care, and paid parental leave—programs of special interest to families of all ethnic groups and, with rare exceptions, opposed by Republicans.

A majority of women have remained quite consistent since the 1970s in the policies (and party) they support. (Among women, loyalty to the Republican Party seems to have fallen chiefly to white Christian evangelicals.) It’s men who have generally been the fickle flip-floppers, switching parties, often well behind the economic curve, to repeatedly vote for “change” unlike the change they voted for last time. The result is a gender gap that widens with each presidential election.

Still, the 2016 version of that gap is a doozy, wider than it’s ever been and growing. Add in another factor: huge numbers of women with “negative” opinions of Donald Trump don’t simply dislike him, but loathe him in visceral ways.  In other words, something unusual is going on here beyond party or policy or even politics — something so obvious that most pundits, busy fielding Trump’s calls and reporting his bluster on a daily basis, haven’t stepped back and taken it in.

Even Hillary Clinton, when she comes out swinging, politely refrains from spelling it out.  In her recent speech on foreign policy, she declared Trump temperamentally unfit to be president: too thin-skinned, too angry, too quick to employ such “tools” as “bragging, mocking, and sending nasty tweets.”  Admittedly, she did conjure up a scary, futuristic image of an erratic bully with a thumb on the nuclear button, describing as well his apparent fascination with and attraction to autocrats like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un.  But she stopped short of connecting the Trumpian dots when she concluded: “I will leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants.”

In truth, most women don’t need psychiatrists to explain the peculiar admiration of an aspiring autocrat for his role models. Every woman who has ever had to deal with a Trump-style-tyrant in her own home or at her job already has Trump’s number.  We recognize him as a bloated specimen of the common garden variety Controlling Man, a familiar type of Household Hitler.

In fact, Donald J. Trump perfectly fits the profile of an ordinary wife abuser—with one additional twist.  Expansive fellow that he is, Trump has not confined his controlling tactics to his own home(s).  For seven years, he practiced them openly for all the world to see on The Apprentice, his very own reality show, and now applies them on a national stage, commanding constant attention while alternately insulting, cajoling, demeaning, embracing, patronizing, and verbally beating up anyone (including a“Mexican” judge) who stands in the way of his coronation.

Let me be clear.  I’m not suggesting that Donald Trump beats his wife (or wives).  I’m only observing that this year the enormous gender gap among voters can be partially explained by the fact that, thanks to their own personal experience, millions of American women know a tyrant when they see one.

Coercion Codified

The tactics of such controlling men, used not on women but on other men, were first studied intensively decades ago.  In the wake of the Korean War, sociologist Albert Biderman, working for the U.S. Air Force, explored the practices used by Chinese communist thought-reformers to try to break (“brainwash”) American prisoners of war. (Think The Manchurian Candidate.)

He reported his findings in “Communist Attempts to Elicit False Confessions From Air Force Prisoners of War,” a 1957 article that caused the Air Force to change its training tactics.  Following Biderman’s report, that service chose to give its high-risk personnel a taste of those tactics and thereby steel them against the pressure, if captured, of “confessing” to whatever their interrogators wanted. The Air Force program, known as SERE(for survival, evasion, resistance, escape), was extended during the war in Vietnam to special forces in the other U.S. military services.

In 1973, Amnesty International used Biderman’s article, augmented by strikingly similar accounts from political prisoners, hostages, and concentration camp survivors, to codify achart of coercion.”  Organizers in the battered women’s movement immediately recognized the tactics described and applied them to their work with women effectively held hostage in their own homes by abusive husbands or boyfriends. They handed that chart out in support groups at women’s shelters, and battered women soon came up with countless homespun examples of those same methods of coercion in use behind closed doors right here in the U.S.A.

The great feminist organizer Ellen Pence and the staff of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP) in Duluth, Minnesota, worked with battered women to refine and summarize those coercive tactics on a handy circular chart they named the Power and Control Wheel.  Since its creation in 1984, that chart has been translated into at least 40 languages, and DAIP has become the international model for community-based work against domestic violence.

It’s probably fair to say that sometime in the last 30 years just about every survivor of domestic violence in the United States — about one of every three American women — has come across that “wheel.” That works out to more than 65 million women, 21 or older (a figure that doesn’t include millions of young adults who also have been targeted by controlling partners, pimps, traffickers, and the like).

Such survivors of violence against women have taught us a lot more about coercive techniques and their insidious use in what appears to be “normal” life.  We know, for one thing, that a controlling man almost always has a charming, seductive side, which he uses to entice his targeted victims and later displays from time to time, between abusive episodes, to keep them in thrall.

More important, we know that when such controlling tactics are skillfully applied to targeted victims, no violent physical coercion is necessary.  None.  The mind can be bent without battering the body. Hence the term “brainwashing.” When a controlling man inflicts physical force or sexual violence on his victim, the act is a demonstration of the control he has already gained through less visible, more insidious tactics of coercion.

Knowing that, it seems reasonable to assume that plenty of men also recoil from Trump’s tactics for the very reasons women do.  After all, such tactics have also been systematically used by men to control men and when applied to an intimate relationship they may have the same destructive impact on men that battered women report. Men, too, get charmed, coerced, beaten, and raped. In this country, one man out of every seven has been a victim of sexual or physical assault by an intimate partner.  But this is no battle of the sexes.  Whether the victim is female or male, the controlling assailant is almost always a man.

The Tyrant’s Toolkit

So how does a Controlling Man operate?  First, according to Amnesty International’s chart on the “methods of coercion,” he isolates the victim.  That’s easy enough to do if the victim is a prisoner or wife. You’d think it would be harder if the controlling figure is running for president and targeting millions of voters, but television reaches into homes, in effect isolating individuals.  Each of them voluntarily attends to the words and antics of the clownish performer who, with his orangey bouffant do and dangling red tie, stands out so flamboyantly from all the bland suits.  Those prospective voters may have tuned in seeking information about the candidates (or even for entertainment), but what they let themselves in for is a blast of head-on Trumpian coercion.

Second, the controller monopolizes the perception” of the targeted victims; that is, he draws all attention to himself. He strives to eliminate any distractions competing for the viewers’/victims’ attention (think: Jeb, John, Chris, Ted, Carly, and crew), and he behaves with enough inconsistency to keep his potential victims off-balance, focused on him alone, and — whether they know it or not — seeking to comply.

Trump has used such tactics gleefully.  The TV networks, like the media generally, and the Republican establishment thought his candidacy was a joke, yet in the process of publicizing that joke, they gave him an estimated $2 billion in free air time.  Often in those months, as in his post-primary “press conferences,” he was not challenged but awarded endless time to rant and ramble on, monopolizing the perceptions of viewers and networks alike. To justify their focus on him and their relative neglect of all other candidates, the networks cited the bottom line. Trump, they said, made them a lot of money. And they made him a daily inescapable presence in our lives.

All of this Trumpianism can be electrifying, exhausting, and undoubtedly mentally debilitating, which not so coincidentally is the third coercive tactic on Amnesty International’s list. The relentlessness and incoherence of the controller’s harangues tend to weaken a victim’s (or viewer’s) will to resist, and thanks to the media, Trump is everywhere—the big man at the podium always talking at us, always looking at us, always watching us. After that, the rest is easy. Amnesty International lists the tools: threats, degradation, trivial demands, occasional indulgences (a flash of charm, for example, or a bit of the feigned reasonableness that keeps Republican bigwigs imagining that Trump’s demeanor will turn “presidential”). The Power and Control Wheel identifies similar tactics with specific examples of each: using threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, especially put-downs and humiliation (think: low-energy Jeb, little Marco, lyin’ Ted, crooked Hillary), minimizing, denying, and blaming (“I never said that!”), and using male privilege; that is, acting like the master of the castle, and being the one to define men’s and women’s rolesas in “Hillary doesn’t look presidential.”

The battered women who have faced such tactics and survived to tell the tale have taught us this: the controlling man knows exactly what he is doing—even when, or especially when, he appears to be out of control or “unpredictable.” Think of the good cop/bad cop routines you see in any police procedural. The skilled controller plays both parts. One moment he’s Mister Nice Guy: generous, charming, ebullient, entertaining.  The next, he’s blowing his stack, and then denying what’s just happened, or claiming he’s been “misconstrued,” and making nice again. (Think: the saga of “bimbo” Megyn Kelly.)

That seemingly unpredictable behavior is toxic because once you’ve felt an incendiary blast of wrath and scorn, you’re likely to do almost anything to avoid “setting him off” again. But it wasn’t you who triggered him. In fact, the controller sets himself off when it serves his purposes, not yours, and he leaves you scrambling to figure out how to deal with him without setting him off again. (Think of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush rolling out new approaches at every debate only to be clobbered and humiliated yet again.)

We’ve witnessed so much of this, seen so many coercive tools flung about and so many competitors slinking away that such conduct now passes for normal “political” exchange.  In the current extraordinary electoral process, we have been spectators at the performances of a man skilled in the sort of coercive tactics designed to control prisoners and hostages, and ruthlessly applied to the criminal abuse of women. We have watched that man put those tactics to use in plain sight to vanquish his opponents and force to his side the battered remnants of a major political party and a significant part of the electorate.

Trump has been at it for months on national television — and no journalist, no politician, no Republican Party leader, no contender has named his behavior for what it is. Nobody has called him out—except in the public opinion polls where women voters, millions of whom know the tyrant’s playbook by heart, have spoken. And they said: no.

Ann Jones is a journalist, photographer (Getty Images), and the author of eight books of nonfiction, most recently, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars—The Untold Story. She writes regularly for the Nation and TomDispatch.com.

See: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/women-see-through-donald-trumps-act?akid=14353.123424.aGan4V&rd=1&src=newsletter1058409&t=2

It’s “the Donald”

Trump’s political successes come from throwing out the rules, and saying what he pleases—now it’s going to reflect on the party itself.

Source:AlterNet

Author: Stephen Rosenfeld

Emphasis Mine 

Republicans across the country are swallowing hard and wondering what Donald Trump is going to be like as their presidential candidate—as if the answers are not clear enough.

Some are hoping he will dial down his vulgar mouth and start acting presidential, as if magically transformed by what mainstream media had been calling an “aura of inevitability.” You saw hints of that in his speech Tuesday night, where, in his typical swing of the pendulum style, he praised Ted Cruz after savaging him for days, even accusing Cruz’s father of consorting with John F. Kennedy’s assassin.

(N.B.: I submit that a candidate qualified for POTUS should BE presedential, not need to ‘act’ the role.

Americans who have been paying attention already know more than enough about Trump, even if he has a showman’s gift to endlessly keep stunning and provoking. That is why two-thirds of Americans not only tell pollsters they not only strongly disappove of him, but many are scared of him. Hillary Clinton’s negatives are high, but not like that.

There are open questions about the race as it enters a new orbit, such as how low will his ugly swipes go, or what scandals from Trump’s past will emerge, or how and when will Democrats hit back, and will they be able to stop him when all the Republican presidential hopefuls did not? The Democrats, and especially Hillary Clinton, have their playbook, while Trump’s political successes have come from throwing out the rules.

Here are seven things we know about Trump and what his candidacy will likely mean, even as the country heads into new territory led by a crazed super-celebrity billionaire.

1. Trump won’t keep his mouth shut. Any notion of better behavior or a classier act has repeatedly shown itself to be a mirage. His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, has said that Trump will continue to be Trump, because he is “a person who tells it like it is.” That means building himself up by putting others down, whether it’s attacking Mexicans, Muslims, women who question him or his values, and anybody else for any headline-grabbing reason.

2. His persona is based on unpredictability. He bragged to the Washington Post’s editorial board that part of being a top negotiator was acting out and upsetting the other side’s expectations. And so he can be rabidly anti-choice to please evangelicals, yet come out for same-sex marriage, saying he’s known Elton John and his partner for years. Or within 24 hours he can trash Ted Cruz and then praise him. Trump believes this somehow is a magnificent virtue, not a liability for the person at the helm of national power. As Lewandowski said, Trump “has the ability to change the narrative at any moment,” as if that is a bedrock principle for governing. When Bill Clinton was president, he infamously said and believed whatever he wanted on TV all the time—facts be damned. But Trump is introducing a whole other level of dysfunction.

3. There will be no moderate makeover. That’s the old cliché; appeal to the purists and extremists to win primaries and caucuses, and come the General Election, tack to the political center because that’s where tens of millions of voters who didn’t take part in the nominating contests start paying attention. (In 2016, it looks like the primary and caucus turnout will be 30 percent of all voters next fall.)  But there is no way Trump can pretend to be moderate, given everything he has already said and social media’s reach. There’s no denying that he exults in ranting and raging as has been seen on the campaign trail. There’s no undoing what he’s done and said ad nauseum for months.

4. He’ll split the party into factions. After Trump won Indiana, Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus called for the party to line up behind the presumptive nominee. That will be much harder for Republican candidates running this fall, who, looking at their own futures, will have to decide if they’ll run with him, in spite of him, or against him. All those shades are already occuring, with many longtime party leaders saying never. These fissures are likely to cost the GOP its U.S. Senate majority.

Before Trump’s clinching the nomination, there were predictions the Senate was ripe for a Democratic takeover. Twenty-four of the 34 Senate seats in play this fall are held by Republicans. Democrats only need to pick up five for a majority. The party has strong candidates in states that turn out blue majorities in presidential years, such as Illinois and Pennsylvania. Trump not onlweakens these GOP incumbents, his candidacy raises a question of what may happen in the House, though GOP gerrymandering after 2010’s redistricting still deeply favors House Republicans. Nonetheless, there’s little to suggest that Trump is about to become the great unifier, meaning Republicans could face a historic meltdown and defeat this fall.

5. His campaign will be marred by scandal. Most people—except for supporters who have fallen under his “make America great again” spell—know that Trump has issues with telling the truth. You can be sure there’s plenty of dirt behind however rich he really is. The country has yet to see his tax returns, which will be a Pandora’s box of slick moves to avoid taxes. There’s Trump’s four business bankrupties involving $4.7 billion in debt, where small business vendors at his casinos were partly paid, hurting the little guy. He has a little-known but extensive history with New York City’s mob, as he built and ran his casinos according to journalists who covered him for decades. And there is even his strange personal life, as pondered by the New Yorker’s new profile of a future possible first lady, Melania Trump.

6. Toss in the Supreme Court and it gets uglier. It is pretty easy to decode the game Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been playing doing everything he can to block President Obama’s latest Supreme Court nominee. McConnell is going for broke, hoping somehow the GOP will not lose its conservative majority on the Court for decades, even if it loses the White House in the shorter run. But add that stonewalling to Trump’s raging and what emerges is a political season where Americans are going to have to decide if they’re ready to hand more power to people who want to upend many things in wholly untried and untested ways. Conservatives might say Bernie Sanders is also a bombthrower, but his remedies have substantial precedents in the 1930s New Deal policies of Franklin Roosevelt and 1960s Great Society programs of Lyndon Johnson. Not so with these Republican “leaders” and a Trump-led GOP.

7. A nasty race will get nastier. Trump has singlehandedly brought a dirtier level of gutter politics to presidential politics, embracing every smear in sight and enjoying his taunts, bullying and strongman act. He’s already gone after Hillary Clinton for playing the “woman card,” being incompetent, being a terrible person, accomodating her cheating husband, and more. Despite these juvenile antics, Democrats know what it means if they lose the media narrative to a headline-provoking stuntman. They are also well aware that Hillary’s unfavorable ratings in national polls are akin to Trump’s.

The Democrats will hit back and hit hard, but the question is not just when and how, but who? There are reports that Democratic super PACs are buying multi-millions in TV ads before the Republican Convention to shape impressions—as if that was needed (and might backfire by playing into his hands as being a target). Nonetheless, if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, as many expect, will Bill step it up? Will the current president? Trump is not the only sharp-tongued politician in America.

But Don’t Worry, Be Happy 

Paul Manafort, an older Washington hand who was hired to be Trump’s Republican National Convention manager, told the Republican National Committee in its recent meetings in Florida that Trump has just been “playing” a part just to get the nomination and he will change once he starts campaigning for the fall.

Talking about saying anything that closes a deal! That’s like being told by the candidate himself to sit down, make yourself at home at one of his resorts, relax and have a drink, grab a meal, play some golf, grab a spa treatment and then get the super-sized bill.

It will be one thing to see Republicans pay the price for embracing Trump, and another for Americans who will be forced along for the upcoming ride. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about the coming Trump candidacy is that while he may be taking all of the country and the GOP into the gutter with him, if the past is prologue, there’s a chance Trump and his party will be left in the gutter for years to come.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/7-ways-gop-about-become-national-freak-show-trump-their-nominee?akid=14225.123424.TpSJQx&rd=1&src=newsletter1055895&t=2