Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Trump vs. Kennedy

Fox New's Photo of Trump last night

Trump was as I predicted: Jobs. Improvement. Strength. Cruel.

Kennedy was as I feared: Misery. Idealistic. Vague

The Trump-Mussolini look-alike isn't new.  By now multiple people on Trump's staff certainly have told Trump that his demeanor of chin up, combined with blunt statements of nationalism and cruelty makes him look and sound like Italian fascist Benito Mussolini.  

Clearly, Donald Trump doesn't mind. He adopted that look throughout his speech.  Pugnacious. Defiant. Imperious. Tough. Take that, loser.

Trump spoke as I predicted, stretching it out 80 minutes.  I brought jobs, and no one else ever did.  I brought low unemployment, like nobody else.  I brought stock market gains, brand new to America.  I brought manufacturing back to America, unlike other presidents.  I am negotiating trade deals that are great, unlike everyone prior to me.  I want a strong military, and North Korea and Iran in submission, and terrorists annihilated, and lots more nuclear weapons, unlike my predecessors.  I observe the danger of immigrants bringing drugs, of immigrant gangs, of immigrant criminals, of a deluge of immigrants, and I propose a solution that no one else has done.
Trump likes this look.

Trump gave a strong speech.  People who do not reflexively hate Trump would have liked his plain and simple talk of jobs.  It's the economy, stupid.  Independents in focus groups scored him high, right along with Republicans.

Democrats have a problem.

Joe Kennedy presented the Democrats' solution.   He had a distracting glare on the side of his mouth.  Chapstick was running.  I tried to ignore it, but kept reaching for a handkerchief.  Wipe your mouth, Joe.

Joe Kennedy began with talk of distress and misery in America, and hard times in Fall River, the site of his speech.  "This is a difficult task. Many have spent the past year anxious, angry, afraid. We all feel the fault lines of a fractured country. We hear the voices of Americans who feel forgotten and forsaken."

It was as if Joe Kennedy invited the worst possible of match-ups.  Strong confident Trump,a winner, versus anxious, afraid, cowering, forgotten, forsaken loser Democrats.
Joe Kennedy

Kennedy's text posited Trump's America, a "zero-sum" world in which one person's gain is another person's loss, creating false choices.  Healthcare in Mississippi at the cost of healthcare in Massachusetts, the mechanic in Pittsburg versus the teacher in Tulsa. Joe Kennedy embraced all the identity groups that fit into that army of people deemed "losers" by Trump. Transgenders. Black Lives Matter. Workers.  Women. Suffragettes.  Freedom Riders. Immigrants.  Dreamers.  Kennedy concluded with a message of the unity of the frustrated and disadvantaged: "That is who we are.  Out of many, one."

So we have the two contestants in the arena.  Trump, confidently speaking of jobs, prosperity, strength, and smashing our evil enemies.  The Democrat speaking of the joint problems and worries of working people and transgenders and women and immigrants. Not a word about jobs.  Not a word about threats, foreign and domestic. It reprised Rodney King's plaintive request amidst the LA riots: "Can't we all get along?"

Liberals/progressives in America are falling into a mind-set where they divide the world between the cruel and xenophobic Trump versus the compassionate and inclusive Democrats.

There is an alternative progressive path for Democrats if they perceive it and dare take it.  It is to describe Trump primarily as a demagogue populist advocate for trickle down economics, ending consumer protections, tax cuts for the rich, and privatization of American infrastructure.  To be anti-Trump one can embrace American prosperity and claim credit for it, embrace optimism and self reliance and advocate for opportunity for all.  Define Trump as a leader of corporate privilege, not the leader of white racial resentment.

Yes, he is racist, but that isn't the point.  It doesn't do any good to point out that a lot of Americans are racist.  It backfires.  What does do some good is to talk about fair taxation, fair distribution of the wealth of America, fair opportunity to work hard and get an education and work hard and get promotions, and that Democrats are the party of prosperity.

Click: Manufacturing jobs left.
Democrats can assert Trump is not bringing back manufacturing jobs, because he is, in fact, not.  He is talking about "good clean coal" while putting tariffs onto solar panels. Even his strongest partisans know better than to see coal as America's future.  Democrats can say Trump is a fraud, and a big talker, trying to return to a long-gone past, and costing jobs in order to do it. 

What he did do was make health care less available for the hard working people who he pretends to advocate for, cut taxes on the wealthiest, increase the deficit and debt, and propose nuclear weapons buildup that no one in the defense establishment wants.

There is political space for a Democrat who talks about jobs and the economy, and less about racism.  Inclusion needs to address all races and all people, black, brown and white.  Women, transgender, and male.  The unifying message in the two speeches given last night was that Americans like a strong economy with the rewards of that economy spread justly and widely among all people.   That is the speech a Democrat can give.

The question is whether Democratic primary voters will allow such a person political space to speak that message.

1 comment:

  1. Didn't watch Trump, and many others didn't either. Ratings were down, revealing the possible influence of a boycott.

    The media is busy fact checking the speech today and revealing it was a litany of lies and obfuscations. Speeches are just talk, but the distinction for me is that the response contained truths that need to be heard and repeated. That's enough for now. Trump wasn't mentioned directly which I think is smart. The subtext is that Trump is not the issue but a result of a Regressive backlash.


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