Friday, February 12, 2016

New Theory

Unless someone else has already come up with it and I missed it.

Everyone is focusing on how angry the Trump supporters are.  Try this:  they're not angry, they are bored and impatient.  Maybe low attention span. Because it's tribalism again. Big surprise, that Assistant Village Idiot is going to use tribalism as his go-to explanation, I know.  But I actually haven't for quite a while.  I'm trying it on and seeing if it fits.

I listen to Howie Carr sometimes, and he is not an unreasonable person, generally.  He likes Trump this time around, which surprised me.  His comments tonight: I don't want someone who's a member of the club. Ted Cruz is on double-secret probation but he's still a member of the club.  I want someone who gonna kick ass and take names.

The Trump commenters on conservative sites say much the same.  They like Trump because he will shake things up. They go off into "explanations" that they supported the Republicans but things are still the same - then the "list of things that are still the same" comes out. But Trump won't put up with any of that, oh, no. 

If that's all it takes, then the prisons are full of guys who will kick ass, take names, and shake things up. So... that can't be the whole story.  Pointing out that Trump is not all that conservative doesn't seem to help, nor do examples of things that conservatives really dislike, nor objectionable stuff he's said and done.

The underlying idea is I'm willing to roll the dice on this guy.  That's not so much an angry person as a bored and impatient one.  That is also the attitude of a person who thinks "Hell, things can't get much worse."  Because things can obviously get much worse.  Nor does there seem to be much discussion of whether things would already be worse if we hadn't started electing more conservatives starting in 2010. Trying to analyze what, exactly couldn't get any worse, I remembered that in the competition among American tribes, everyone believes they are victimised and one-down.

The feeling is We deserve to be dominant, but Obama is still president, and the elected GOP still caves on everything and people still laugh at us. We want someone to go forth and Do Battle.  Trump is willing to Do Battle, and you other bastards wouldn't. It will be fun to watch him fight those liberals and give 'em what for.  Roll the dice.  Spin the wheel.  Take bets and make popcorn. Hehehe!

I disagree.  I could actually make a high-school five-point essay in favor of him. (The trick is to leave some things out.) Yet his supporters don't seem to be making those arguments, they are making other claims, usually suffused with what they imagine he is going to do.


james said...

Are these all the usual "candidate supporters," or is he pulling in some new faces?

Christopher B said...

What I heard about Iowa is that he's likely doing that but they aren't always his supporters. If you took Trump's voters out of the caucus partipation numbers you'd still have a top-5 turnout.

jaed said...

The underlying idea is I'm willing to roll the dice on this guy. That's not so much an angry person as a bored and impatient one.

Or a worried-sick one who's already tried the conventional solutions (vote for and support conservative candidates, write your congresscritter, participate in public protests, etc.) and found them not working.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

jaed, yours is the reasonable expression of what I described, and it is good for me to be reminded that just because the loudest people resort to terrible arguments, it does not follow that all their allies are entirely on the same page. It deserves a better reply than what i have been giving to Trump supporters in other places.

I am measuring from the elections of 2010 primarily, the first ones after the formation of the Taxed Enough Already Party. In the long twilight struggle there are ebbs and flows. At the time, the opposition to the Washington establishments focused on size of government. Any number of issues were important to the Tea Party and other opponents of the status quo, but that was the center. There have been consistent victories at the state and locl levels since that time, and I always expected that Washington Republicans would be the last to be on board, not the leaders. I don't believe things could have changed much more quickly.

I also don't believe that Donald Trump will be much help on that score. There might be a couple of showy changes, and a warm feeling as he actually seems to fight back against growth of government. Plus, there is some chance that he will turn out to be okay on that.

Now the big issue is immigration, safety from enemies, foreign policy, and to a lesser extent, economic issues other than overall spending, such as jobs. So we moved the goalposts, or changed the game, or whatever. There were certainly some people who have been on the illegal immigration issue a long time, but not what we - the opposition to the GOP elite and Washington in general - said not so very long ago. We might play any number of other cards 1) working much harder to control immigration is a good idea, or 2) Islamic terrorism changes the picture, but I don't think we can fairly play the "I'm sick of it" card.

Trump might actually accomplish something on the immigration and foreign policy fronts. If someone feels those are at emergency status they think that all possible solutions will necessarily have risk, and Trump isn't the worst. Not unreasonable, but I disagree. I don't think it's an emergency. I think it's an emergency in Europe, but not here. It's a problem, and it might get worse. I think it's a problem and I favor more attention on illegal immigration and screening of legals. But I'm not at the dice-rolling stage there.

james said...

I wonder how much people think their vote counts for. It seems as though a lot of the rules that govern us come from people we didn't elect and can't get rid of through any standard mechanisms.
If small tweaks don't seem to make much difference, people will try bigger ones. After a while they start to bang the side of the computer to show it who's boss. It doesn't address the problem, but nothing else does either.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Well, that describes me pretty well, anyway.

jaed said...

I don't believe things could have changed much more quickly.

Mrph. From certain perspectives, a lot of things have changed since 2010... for the worse. State and local victories are fine, and possibly a harbinger of more to come... but DC has gathered most of the political power in the country, to the point at which state and local politics don't affect people's everyday lives as much as national politics, in particular the regulatory state (touching on james's point about people we didn't elect). And in national politics, I would not say things haven't changed.

But I think Trump's attraction is simple: he's willing to say things that Aren't Said, and better still, he shows no trace of the traditional Republican Cringe Response when the media/political class indicates he has said something that Isn't Said. In fact, he doubles down in such cases.

jaed said...

Trump might actually accomplish something on the immigration and foreign policy fronts. If someone feels those are at emergency status...

This refocuses my thought, now that I reread it. Let's posit that (some) people support Trump based (in part) on their belief that there is an emergency. (This belief may account for the perception of them as angry and/or impatient.) We can usefully ask what the emergency is.

There are some possible issues. Taxes are a drag on an economy that's sputtering anyway. The ACA is rapidly changing the practice of medicine for the worse, in a way that will take decades to repair, and it's also impacting sick people's medical care right now. High immigration levels plus toleration of trespassing in the country has all kinds of impacts, but that's been going on for decades. Regulation chokes the life out of most businesses before they're even born - I have seen estimates that it takes 30% of the productivity of the country - but that too is not new. Worse, but on a longterm trend. All of these are bad things and threaten this country, but none seems to be an emergency, exactly.

But there is something that, while not new either, seems to have become much worse in the past decade or so: the attitude of the governing/media class, and its separation from the rest of the country. The members of this class are openly contemptuous of Americans who aren't members, and seem to favor policies that disadvantage this country and its people precisely because they do that. The H1-B visa program, the steps concerning illegal residents, more foreign policy than I can shake a stick it... and more than that, the rhetoric about all these things and more is not only anti-American but seems to carry the assumption that policy should be anti-American. Worst of all, everyone in power seems to simply accept this and to be afraid to challenge it. If anyone does so, he or she is forced to apologize for the... hmm... the breach of accepted decorum.

I suggest that this is more worrisome than anything else I've listed, because the fact that you can't challenge it with impunity makes it impossible to change. It used to be that ordinary people could at least speak up against the consensus of their betters, but that's not really true any more with the rise of social media and its use to shame dissenters. (Remember the woman who unwisely told a reporter that she wouldn't cater a same-sex wedding, in the unlikely and entirely hypothetical event that a couple wanted pizza at their reception? Nationwide opprobrium, death threats, and all the rest followed. There are of course many examples of this.)

In this atmosphere and this situation, someone who says whatever he thinks and absolutely refuses to apologize for offending the gentry is not just refreshing - he may look like the unlikely salvation of the Republic. And for this reason, I think a Trump presidency might be a disaster, but his candidacy has been an extremely good thing.