Monday, May 1, 2017

Trump thought the presidency would be easy. His voters don't understand why that's the most dangerous thing about Trump.

Bob Cesca at explores the implications of what we already know, that Donald Trump thought being president “would be easier” — and so did his deeply ignorant voters. It’s that second assertion that merits attention. (h/t Paul McCreary)

What can you even say? The profound political illiteracy of roughly half our electorate brought us to this.

"Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck,” the great George Carlin once said. “Where does everybody think these politicians come from?” he asked, “They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality.” Carlin observed that it’s American voters — “selfish, ignorant citizens” who give us “selfish, ignorant politicians.”

Carlin’s view of our “garbage in, garbage out” electoral system couldn’t have been illustrated with more obvious accuracy than with the election of Donald Trump. In just about every way, Trump is a direct reflection of the cynical, superficial, nearsighted mentality of too many 2016 voters who thought it’d be more appropriate to elect a berserker president as a “fuck you” to the left than to consider what kind of irreparable damage might occur by electing an incompetent reality-show stooge and tabloid New York socialite as leader of the free world.

… Trump’s crazy train of loyalists picked up more passengers as his public statements and scandals grew worse and worse. Why? Possibly because they simply didn’t recognize, unlike the rest of us, Republicans and Democrats alike, that those scandals were disqualifying events, either during the campaign or following the election.

Naval War College professor Tom Nichols is the author of a poignant new book titled, “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters.” Nichols dissects the current dominance of social media and with it the rise of phenomenon in which non-experts believe they’re experts in everything, while refusing to accept the word of actual experts. There couldn’t be a volume better suited for the Age of Trump, when disinformation, whether domestic or foreign in origin, is so heavily dragging the discourse away from facts and reality.

In a recap of Trump’s first 100 days, Nichols also published an article for USA Today in which he observed that Trump’s voters aren’t bothered by his incompetence because they don’t possess enough of a basic understanding of politics to recognize why Trump’s presidency is such a calamity.

“It is a matter of political literacy,” Nichols writes. “The fact of the matter is that too many Trump supporters do not hold the president responsible for his mistakes or erratic behavior because they are incapable of recognizing them as mistakes. They lack the foundational knowledge and basic political engagement required to know the difference between facts and errors, or even between truth and lies.”

Check out the video in the article. Residents of a Washington town explain why they are for Trump. They are oblivious to his lies and broken promises. Their reasons make no sense. They speak the shallowest generalities. But then so does Trump.

“Selfish, ignorant voters,” as Carlin said, have burdened us with a phenomenally unstable and disorganized administration that’s ignoring the delicate nature of international diplomacy and is therefore on the verge of precipitating wars with at least two nations, North Korea and Syria, if not more. One of those wars might include nuclear weapons. We’re already engaged in a cyber-war against Russia, with more than a few members of the administration linked to Vladimir Putin, including the secretary of state and the secretary of commerce. If Trumpers genuinely understood how dangerous these events were, the president’s approval ratings would be several orders of magnitude lower than they are already. If they understood that Trump’s twice-failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act would have stripped millions of Trump voters of their insurance, he might already have been impeached.

Following is an appropriate summation from Nichols in his USA Today article Are Trump voters ruining America for all of us?

There is a serious danger to American democracy in all this. When voters choose ill-informed grudges and diffuse resentment over the public good, a republic becomes unsustainable. The temperance and prudent reasoning required of representative government gets pushed aside in favor of whatever ignorant idea has seized the public at that moment. The Washington Post recently changed its motto to “democracy dies in darkness,” a phrase that is not only pretentious but inaccurate. More likely, American democracy will die in dumbness.

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