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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Occupy Trump

The political divide in he U.S. is no longer over what is the best way to achieve the liberty, equality, and justice set forth in our founding documents.   The argument is now about whether liberty, equality, and justice are  desired national goals.  

In September 2011,  we saw the Occupy Wall Street movement surround the financial district with the message that Wall Street rigged the economy to serve only the top one percent and the protesters represented the 99 percent.  They pointed to Wall Street as the direct cause of the Great Recession.  The movement spread across the country,  disrupting some activities,  but it was a peaceful movement.  As police evicted the Occupy protesters from their occupation sites,  they quietly retreated.  The media commentators dismissed the Occupy movement as a disorganized flash-in-the pan, and concluded they the protest was over.  People who supported the movement had an agenda that was a bit too cerebral for the shallow media-minds to grasp.  Their agenda was to demonstrate to the American people how all but the top economic percentages were being systematically disenfranchised from the economy.  With the implementation of Ronald Reagan's trickle down politics,  masses of people were pushed out of the middle class with an alarming increase in the poverty rate.  They pointed out that welfare recipients were not people who refused to work, but were, in fact, largely people who worked with two or three jobs trying to survive in an economy designed to benefit only the very rich.

The message was taken  up by Bernie Sanders who seemed to come out of no where as a contender for presidential candidacy.   But to those who understood the message,  Sanders is no surprise.  He has long substantiated the message and spread it with eloquence and without malice.

In contrast,  the Republicans are advancing the quintessential one-percenter in Donald Trump.  Trump demonstrates all that is destructive and offensive in a corporate ruler.  He divides the world into winners and losers.  His political rhetoric consists of unsupportable claims based on patently false information.  His exchanges with rivals consist of juvenile insults and taunts, and  his monologues are racist, sexist, misanthropic rants. Although some claim he is smart politically, his effectiveness is in his primitive, alpha-dog intimidation and promise of power to those who harbor the lust to exercise racist oppression and return to Jim Crow and beyond.  The America he claims is a loser is the America which  has advanced a social struggle from slavery and Jim Crow toward racial and ethnic equality, sexual equality, and equal rights for all gender identifications.  The America he wants to make great again is the America that discriminates against people,  lavishes insults, abuse, and poverty of those designated for oppression.  The America he calls a loser is the America which won World War II and through diplomacy and cooperative effort built its defeated enemies into two of the world bastions of democracy.  It is the America which has built peace and reduced the threat of nuclear disaster, not an America modeled after the belligerence of Vladimir Putin or  Kim Jong Un.  Trump's appeal is to those who side with the playground bullies as the source of power,  whose notion of freedom is the right to torment and humiliate others with belligerent crudity and cruelty.  

Trump's speech after winning primary elections last night demonstrated the depth of his politics.  He insulted the press that was allowed into his victory rally.  (His campaign staff maintains a list of news organizations and reporters banned from covering his events.)  He bragged about his wealth and his deal-making.  He promised to turn the running of America over to corporate leaders, saying they were the best in the world.  He emphasized his support of the Second Amendment.  As the rally was held in a ballroom on his personal estate in Florida,  he was not bothered by protesters, as they were carefully excluded from the event.  However,  when protesters exercise their First Amendment rights against the Trump hate speech,  he whines that they are thugs who are trying to abridge his free speech.  Trump never engages in a dialogue with others unless it is to cast his insults and abuse at them.  

In a word,  Trump is mindless.  There is no evidence of thought or contemplation in his words.  His political success is in following Schopenhauer's rule:  The person who writes for fools is always sure of a large audience.”   Trump's large audience is a sign of the intellectual deterioration that corporate rule has brought about in America.  The analysts say that Trump's supporters are angry at being ignored and left out of the recovery following the Great Recession.  The deadly irony is that Great Recession was caused by those corporate CEOs and money managers who are driven by avarice and a status gauged by how much oppression they can inflict.   They think that Trump, who is the poster boy of CEO avarice and whose campaign was ignited by his promises to oppress huge groups of people, is going work in their behalf.  Trump gives voice to their anger and malice,  and he makes promises about making deals which will make America "win,"  but he never addresses the causes of the decline some people feel.  That's because he and his kind are the cause. 

According to recent studies,  the top 1 percent received 95 percent of the gains made in the recovery from the Great Recession.  Obama's recovery was greatly hampered by corporations and their Congressional toadies.  Bernie Sanders has led the struggle against the economic inequality that underlies the anger and frustration of many Americans.  In their anger,  they have not been able to identify the causes of their torment.  Rather,  they have clung to old racial hatreds and assume that a black guy win the White House is the source of their plight.  Guns which can dispatch the minorities they blame with a little bad scripture thrown in are what they cling to.  Trump gives them voice.  And the very people he and his ind exploit turn to him as a savior  

The Republican Party is behind the foolery of the angry Americans.  Christian philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard identified what has become its rule:  “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” 

Donald Trump is a symptom of America's larger problem:  a mass of people who have not the wit or education to be anything but fooled.  They are the product of the attacks on education and conditioning by he popular media that has identified reality as totally inhabited by fools.  And they have chosen the most flamboyant fool of all as their savior.   

If there is any attempt to bridge the divide between Americans that is assuming a lethal hostility,  it must be done in the recognition that those who believe that democracy functions on intelligence and education have to find a way to talk to those who have been indoctrinated into detesting intelligence and education.

That might well have to be done by demonstrating what a fool Donald Trump is and what fools he makes of those who believe in him as a solution to their plight.  

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States