Saturday, December 29, 2018

Why Trump fears the 'MAGA mob'

If he read, or even just surfed the web, Trump might well take heed of the example presented by the French revolutionary, Robespierre. Here’s part of the Robespierre bio from Wiki.

Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre … is perhaps best known for his role in the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. He was named as a member of the powerful Committee of Public Safety launched by his political ally Georges Danton and exerted his influence to suppress the extreme Hébertists. As part of his attempts to use extreme measures to control political activity in France, Robespierre later moved against the more moderate Danton, who was accused of corruption and executed in April 1794. The Terror ended a few months later with Robespierre’s arrest and execution in July …

The very movement that Robespierre helped found, and that he used against his fellow revolutionaries, ultimately turned against him.

Trump rally
Worshipers at a Trump rally

So it might be with Trump’s “MAGA mob.” Eugene Robinson asks and answers Who’s afraid of the MAGA mob? Only Trump.

For the new year, critics of President Trump should resolve not to be intimidated by the potential wrath of his vaunted political base. The only one who should cower before the Make America Great Again legions is Trump himself.

And he does fear them, bigly. The latest illustration is the way he chickened out on a bipartisan agreement to keep the government fully funded, instead forcing a partial shutdown over chump change for “the wall.” I use quotation marks because there never was going to be an actual, physical, continuous wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, much less one paid for by the Mexican government. The president is desperately trying to avoid acknowledging this and other realities before the 2020 election.

Anyone who thinks Trump is a master politician is wrong. He’s a master illusionist, which isn’t the same thing. Politicians can’t keep pulling rabbits out of empty hats forever. At some point, they face a reckoning, and Trump’s is well underway.

It is a mistake to underestimate Trump’s base or to suggest that all the issues he raises are, because he raises them, invalid. There are legitimate reasons, for example, to want to ensure border security. But racism is not one of them, and a useless wall, meant to symbolize rejection of a brown-skinned “invasion,” is not an actual solution.

The fact is that Trump touched a nerve that was already inflamed. Race, ethnicity, cultural heritage, economic dislocation, opioid addiction, the effects of free trade, the impact of robotics — all these issues were out there already, and a lot of people believed our elected officials weren’t dealing with them adequately. Trump hasn’t a clue about what to do or how to do it. But he knows how to poke and prod; he knows how to rile people up and sell them red hats.

For now, he may be calculating that 35 percent is enough to keep the GOP-led Senate from removing him from office in the event that the House finds compelling grounds to impeach him. What keeps him from compromising isn’t principle or determination. It’s simple fear.

And that is an excellent reason to cut him out of the negotiations that might/could/should lead to a re-opening of the government. But that’s the subject of another post today.

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