11-19-16 Hodgepodge

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Trump as Ominous Sign

Yaron Brook (audio) and Onkar Ghate of the Ayn Rand Institute make similar arguments to the effect that the election of Donald Trump is, as Brook puts it, a "seismic event," and reflects a new milestone in the deterioration of the culture and sense of life of the American people. The following quotes are from Ghate's piece, which is lengthy, but deserves a full read:

My argument is that Trump publicly projected the mentality, methods and campaign of a would-be dictator -- however much it may have been an act and however difficult it may be to enact specific decrees -- and that he won the presidency because of this.

The issue is not Trump the person or what he might do to the country while in office. (Though these are important concerns.) The issue is what the success of his campaign reveals about the country. [emphasis in original]
Neither Ghate's piece nor Brook's podcast are all gloom and doom by any means. Ghate continues later:
But although these and many other forces have contributed to the erosion of the American spirit, it is not gone. Running against, in Sam Harris's words, such "a terribly flawed candidate" as Hillary, against whom many people were voting, Trump did not win the popular vote. More importantly, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, from virtually all reports, were the most despised candidates and choice for president in recent American history. This is good news. It offers hope for a brighter future.
Also noteworthy is a link supplied by Ghate to an Ezra Klein article that went a long way towards explaining how Trump got through the primaries at all, and why we have a real danger of similar candidates being elected from either party in the future.

Weekend Reading

"[T]rying to compromise when none is possible is futile." -- Michael Hurd, in "Appeasing Mean People Sucks" at The Delaware Wave

"Call hypocrisy by its proper name and treat it accordingly -- in yourself and in others." -- Michael Hurd, in "Why People Become Hypocrites" at The Delaware Coast Press

"To blow the wheels off the gravy train, we have to blow up the idea that any person is entitled to the wealth and prosperity of another." -- Michael Hurd, in "Trump Can Make Land of Opportunity Great Again" at Newsmax

"Consider that zero interest makes it impossible to save." -- Keith Weiner, in "About That Economic Inequality" at SNB & CHF

"What makes the story doubly chilling is that a sizable number of people thought even jail was not enough." -- Elan Journo, in "After This Jordanian Criticized ISIS, He Was Thrown in Jail, Then Murdered" at The Federalist

My Two Cents

The silver lining of a Trump presidency, such as it might be, will, as Hurd, Brook, and Ghate indicate, be in his enactment of less harmful policies than his predecessor. That said, I am far less sanguine than Hurd seems to be that Trump will "drain the swamp." He hasn't the right political philosophy nor the political capital to do this, and his career as a political crony is evidence against his having the inclination to do so. See also Brook and Ghate on his supporters taking him "seriously, but not literally" -- not that his platform was that good.

Giving Nyarlathotep a Chance

McSweeney's has posted some Cthulhu-related post-election humor:
But the die has been cast, and we've gotta roll with what we've been given. Like it or not, Nyarlathotep -- God of a Thousand Forms, Stalker Among the Stars -- is our Commander-in-Chief now. And you know what, Jerry? Color me curious. I know a lot of really heated rhetoric and seemingly reckless policy proposals have been bandied about over the past few months -- that bit about "delighting in this dust speck you call Earth's senseless suffering" still bugs me -- but hey, the least we can do is see how He adjusts to His new responsibilities.
This would be a lot funnier if this weren't the premeditated modus operandi of so many voters. (And I mean the ones who blindly trust Trump, as opposed to those who might have argued that we can count on Clinton to do harm (but Trump might not do harm). And I wonder how many of those were angry at that viral clip of Nancy Pelosi urging passage of the ACA, so we can find out "what's in it.")

-- CAV


Steve D said...

'Trump as Ominous Sign'
I've made this point in the comments of several blogs - not sure about this one; that the issue is not so much Trump but what comes afterwards. Trump is an effect more than a cause and I am sure lots of would-be dictators are taking note and hatching plans. This is not so much an argument not to vote for him (after all his policies might be better than Hillary’s), but to point out that he represents the emergence of a different form of tyranny than Clinton which may soon replace liberty as the alternative in peoples’ mind, like replacing cyanide with rat poison in your diet. It is interesting that the US seems to be undergoing the same historical movement towards dictatorship as many other countries in the twentieth century but at a slower pace, almost slow motion. The resilience of the Constitution and a strong tradition of liberty may have inoculated the US to some degree, slowing the process and frustrating the progressives – but not forever.
I am not so sure about Gate’s opinion that it is grounds for optimism that his opponent was so terrible though. It may be another milestone in the deterioration of the culture and sense of life of the American people that his opponent was so terrible. Almost universally when empires and civilizations die, their leadership always degenerates near the end; the opposite of what happens when empires are born.

Steve D said...

'This would be a lot funnier if this weren't the premeditated modus operandi of so many voters.'

MO yes. Do you think it's premeditated though? Seems to imply a degree of foresight I have a hard time imagining they have. Maybe they even surprise themselves at how fast they jump on the Trump bandwagon.

Gus Van Horn said...


(1) I think you did make your first point here, a least in part.

(2) That's a good catch. This is much more blind rebellion than, "Trump is likely to be awful, but Clinton is guaranteed to be.


Steve D said...

'He hasn't the right political philosophy nor the political capital to do this'

I see dozens of articles now on conservative websites with themes like; Trump has a once in a lifetime change to fix the tax code, federal reserve, regulations, life will be great, etc.

A good test of Ayn Rand's theory that ethics trumps(pun intended) politics, no?

Gus Van Horn said...


What you're observing is part of what paved the way for Trump: the (implicit) idea that ideas don't matter.

Once in a lifetime? As if we can't persuade others over time and build momentum for such changes? As if a population that wants various handouts (including some tax "breaks") is (absent persuasion) going to stand for the spending cuts that need to accompany the changes and not change it back or clamor for (and get) something worse, later? Much of the GOP gave up on ideas long ago, which is why they alternate between appeasing Democrats and trying to smuggle in freedom. It's why they truncated the primary season -- so candidates wouldn't have to say anything thta the Democrats could shoot down later. They can't imagine making a good argument, much less changing someone's mind.

I guess if I didn't know about (or evaded) rational persuasion, I'd feel pretty apocalyptic all the time and hang my hat on a savior, too.

So, yes, you're right, but the problem lies even deeper than ethics for many Trump supporters and their fellow travellers among the Republicans who caved in.


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, the Nyarlathotep humor's good. I'm glad someone knows there's more to Lovecraft than just Cthulhu.

Gus Van Horn said...

Hopefully, this isn't also the end of the good news Trump's election brings you...