The Trump Phenomenon

Donald Trump is coming off a string of three victories, NH, NC, and just yesterday the Nevada caucuses.

And the pundits are now talking about a more and more likely scenario of the Republicans choosing Trump as their candidate for president in November. Who would ever have thought it? And how has it happened?

The most reasonable explanation for what was earlier an impossible outcome has to be what so many are saying, the voters’ anger. People are angry with the political establishment, both the Democrats who are voting for Sanders, and the Republicans who are voting for Trump. For the establishment has failed to convince us that although they, the power brokers, are in positions of power and authority, they are by and large powerless to initiate, control, let alone determine the outcome of events. This failure of government allows considerable room for both Trump and Sanders, and the two of them are, as it were, the two carriers of the people’s anger.

But it is not at all the policies of the two candidates that the people want, not Sander’s socialism, not Trump’s nonothingism. The voters for Trump and Sanders want by their presidential choices most of all to shake things up. They don’t want things to go on as they have been, a situation when absolutely nothing the government does, when and if they do do something, seems to change anything at all. And Trump and Sanders show, if nothing else, that they are shakers, and once in office perhaps they may also be movers.

Trump
Photo by Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Although I myself don’t like the enormous growth in government that Sander’s program promises to bring about, nor do I like Trump’s policies of no policy at all, of nothing worthy of the name, —a wall between us and Mexico being about as close as he comes to even having one, I am excited by what the shaking up by either man as president might mean for the country. And like the angry voters I too am angry by how little our government “governs.” how little its actions benefit the people. And it would be great fun to see if radical change is now, as at two or more moments of our past history, even possible.

But as I say that I think that most changes, beneficial or detrimental, have come about by themselves, as it were, in spite of what we may think we’re doing to bring them about. In most instances real change is forced upon us from without or within, for our very survival will depend on our changing and how we respond to what is happening. The threat to our survival may be a non-representative English parliament intent on severely limiting our economic freedom, a slave population from within the country demanding to be free, a dictatorial power from without, bent on extending its dictatorship even to us and our own way of life.

In respect to Sanders we know how he will fail if he were to get elected. Socialism is not going to happen in this country. In respect to Trump we don’t know what would happen if he were to be elected. We don’t think he ever will be, and the betting today is on Hillary. But if it did happen and he were elected the presidency itself, the Oval Office would probably force even Trump to change overnight, becoming what?? Who knows?

The author of the Art of the Deal knows well himself that you have to give in order to get. Give up the wall in exchange for a more reasonable immigration policy. Give up untrammeled expansion of the military in exchange for moderate budget increases. Give up opposition to abortion, same sex marriage, and the other social issues, those that are at the heart of the anger of the Evangelicals, in exchange for more governmental transparency and greater roles for state and local governments in bringing about difficult changes.

In short, it’s not inconceivable that Trump (with no fixed religious or other dogma to protect and promote) might very well do away with the awful distance that now separates the people from their government. He might surprise all of us and begin, as noone ever has before, listening to the people. The one who knows nothing himself, as the Donald, will perhaps best listen to what the others are saying.


 

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