Sunday, December 31, 2017

Competition vs. Cooperation

Trump is a reaction to Obama.  

It was clash between two world views: a Hobbesian world of competition over a idealist world of cooperation.

Trump is a competitor.  He sees the world like a warrior sees the world: Nice guys finish last.  

A lot of people see it that way, too.  They like a bully.  They think bullies understand the world.  Business is competition.  Labor markets are competition. Rigor builds character.  

Election Night, 2016
Obama's polite tone projected a world view of thoughtful cooperation, respect, appreciation of constraints, blowback from decisive actions, and the interests of others.  Obama saw two sides in Israel-Palestine struggle.  Obama welcomed multilateral agreements.  He saw two sides to the issues of police behavior with black suspects. 

Obama said there were no red states and no blue states.  There was only the United States of America.  That--and the complete collapse of the American financial system under the watch of a Republican president--got Obama elected.  We thought we wanted a uniter, until we got one.

Obama set the stage for Trump.

Republicans saw Obama as weak.  They called Obama "feckless."  Sarah Palin said he wore "mom's jeans."  Trump said he got rolled by Mexico and China on trade.  All the Republican candidates criticized his imposing rules on drone strikes to minimize collateral deaths of bystanders.  Obama's administration did not dissolve the financial institutions whose carelessness and greed destroyed the economy, nor did he prosecute the leaders of it. He worked out a deal. 


Barrack Obama communicated a world view that humans--and nations--live in a complicated world where the interests of others overlap and conflict, and that people and leaders need to act with self restraint as we negotiate these relationships.

Trump communicated an opposite view.  Humans--and nations--live in a complicated world of competition, where the interests of others overlap and conflict, and that each are attempting to win.  Only saps, weaklings, and losers exercise self restraint.   Play to win, in trade and geopolitical influence.

The limits on any one party are created by the competition between the self-interested actors, not by third-party rule makers, and most certainly not by self-defeating politeness.   

Click Here: "You can't handle the truth"
Trump is a competitor.  A great many people see the world as a tough world of competition, with winners and losers in a zero sum world.  The attached clip is cited frequently, for the simple reason that it dramatically depicts this world view:  

"You can't handle the truth.  Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded with men with guns. . . . You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. . . and my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives."

Dog eat dog, and "America first" are not grotesque ideas to Trump.  

Trump is criticized by the media and by Democrats for governing for his base, rather than "reaching out."  That misunderstands Trump.  Trump sees governing for his base as a point of pride--and so do a great many American voters.  Jesus' instruction to "turn the other cheek" was revolutionary and remains so, because it is simply not how most humans think.  Life experience tells them that when they turn the other cheek they get taken advantage of.  That was Trump's fundamental charge against Obama: he was weak and let himself and the USA get taken advantage of.

Roman General.  Presidential.
Trump sits in the oval office.  He won.  His Christian base expects him to use that advantage in the courts.  His Zionist base expects him to carry out a Netanyahu favored policy in Israel.  His trickle down corporate base expects him to cut taxes on the tenth of one percent.  Trump is keeping those promises.

In a world where the equilibrium is set by wins and losses, not rules, winners win and losers submit.  Democrats use words like "bully" and "provocateur" and "vulgar" and "self interested" and think they are calling him bad names. They don't understand why Trump doesn't cool it and moderate his image to become more "presidential."  Trump thinks he is being presidential, and so do a great many Americans, when he is bluntly selfish and insulting to rivals. 

Democrats would make a mistake to advance a constitutional scholar or a legislator to take him on. Trump is a warrior.


Rick Millward said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Millward said...

Trump is a mirror.

Sociopathic narcissists do not have a personality per se. They merely reflect the outside reality they encounter, in order to keep the focus on themselves, and this is a reason they are comfortable with inconsistency. He is a reflection of his cult members who found in him a convenient and willing implement for their nihilistic world view.

Obama was a man of his time. I wrote myself an essay in 2008 predicting that he would be savaged by Republicans and sabotaged by his own party. Democrats used the Obama coalition to gain power, but failed to consistently follow Progressive principles and lost support when they caved into Republicans. Now much of the electorate that could keep them in power does not trust them, which has given the opening to Regressives.