1 2 3 > 
 
   
 

Is this Trump-era Presidency really all that contentious?

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
Avatar
 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
Total Posts:  586
Joined  13-02-2017
 
 
 
13 November 2018 04:59
 

Does anyone else find most of this talk of an especially divided America, an overly-charged electorate, and the erosion of our institutions quite overblown?  That this talk about the threats, challenges, and dangers we face now—as being somehow outside the norm, or even unique—is quite the exaggeration? 

I’ve been watching documentaries on the Nixon era, and reading some books, and the time up to Watergate (and including it) sure doesn’t look any less divided or contentious than what we are seeing now; it seems more so, in fact.  All the way up to the White House badmouthing the press: Nixon all but Tweeted daily about “fake news,” and he probably would have if the term were current and Twitter existed (along with the lack of discipline to use it).  In fact, back then select journalists were served with implied threats, and some people were even overtly blackmailed into silence, not just kicked out of the White House briefings!  In any case, there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly contentious about our Trump-era, or erosive of our institutions (faith in government, for instance, was far more in danger of collapsing then than now), or even anything exceptionally partisan (lord they were at it under Nixon, Johnson, and even, after Brown v Board, under Eisenhower).  Quite the contrary.  Nixon’s slow pace of ending the Vietnam war and the impact of that involvement had people marching in the streets, got students shot by government forces, and ended in Watergate—a bona fide criminal act the likes of which Mueller has yet to even indicate about the Trump campaign and any Russian collusion.  In the end, this Trump reality-show seems rather tame by comparison, not to mention other eras when even more was at stake.

So, is this talk of our hyper-partisan, corrosive, and especially divisive era just so much end-of-times doom saying that more or less every political generation more or less adopts to privilege what it experiences over what has been experienced before?

It seems to me that our times are well within the norm of American politics, and in any case are far short of the most contentious times this country has faced.  Not to mention the stakes seem smaller, the actors less potent, and threats more recreational than real.  Is this, perhaps, my own inner contrarian coming through, to inversely mirror the end-of-times rhetoric we are seeing now? Or are we in fact collectively seeing an exaggeration of how divided we are and how contentious our politics has actually become?

I leave open the possibility that government itself is more dysfunctional; that the slow rot that’s been brewing for about two decades has finally gotten to the core.  But that, it seems, is a different argument and a different problem than anything special about the Trump Presidency.  He may be the most uninformed and incompetent occupant of the Oval Office, but that uniqueness doesn’t seem to spell anything unique about American political business-as-usual.

[ Edited: 13 November 2018 05:22 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
mapadofu
 
Avatar
 
 
mapadofu
Total Posts:  536
Joined  20-07-2017
 
 
 
13 November 2018 05:05
 

Nixon in general, and Watergate (and the related misuse of power) specifically, was a particularly low point in American politics, no?

 
Twissel
 
Avatar
 
 
Twissel
Total Posts:  2593
Joined  19-01-2015
 
 
 
13 November 2018 07:36
 

Trump is well outside the norm. He is simply staggeringly unqualified for the job.
He has no idea about the political system in the US and no intention to learn about anything.

Meanwhile, he is blatantly self-serving.


This isn’t at the far end of the spectrum, this is different type animal entirely.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
Avatar
 
 
Jan_CAN
Total Posts:  2691
Joined  21-10-2016
 
 
 
13 November 2018 07:57
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 13 November 2018 04:59 AM

It seems to me that our times are well within the norm of American politics, and in any case are far short of the most contentious times this country has faced.  Not to mention the stakes seem smaller, the actors less potent, and threats more recreational than real.  Is this, perhaps, my own inner contrarian coming through, to inversely mirror the end-of-times rhetoric we are seeing now? Or are we in fact collectively seeing an exaggeration of how divided we are and how contentious our politics has actually become?

I leave open the possibility that government itself is more dysfunctional; that the slow rot that’s been brewing for about two decades has finally gotten to the core.  But that, it seems, is a different argument and a different problem than anything special about the Trump Presidency.  He may be the most uninformed and incompetent occupant of the Oval Office, but that uniqueness doesn’t seem to spell anything unique about American political business-as-usual.

Whew ... if the Trump administration was to be considered by the majority as “well within the norm of American politics”, then you’d all be in even more trouble than is obvious.  Complacency or any kind of acceptance that this is “business-as-usual” could only lead to further erosion of what Americans should hold dear.  Underestimating the effects of Trump is dangerous; the “slow rot” needs to be stopped and reversed.  As it is, it could take decades to recover from the ugliness that he and his like represent and perpetuate.

 
 
GAD
 
Avatar
 
 
GAD
Total Posts:  16981
Joined  15-02-2008
 
 
 
13 November 2018 08:13
 

How low the bar if the Trump Presidency is normal.

 
 
EN
 
Avatar
 
 
EN
Total Posts:  20846
Joined  11-03-2007
 
 
 
13 November 2018 08:15
 

The Civil War was the low point.  It’s the only time a whole section of the country said “I’m outta here!”

Nixon was probably second lowest, although the entire desegregation process was pretty raucous.

There was a lot of mud slung during the campaign where Jackson was elected.

It’s always been pretty hot here - I’m gonna say Trump is about 3rd worst, after the Civil War and Nixon.  But give him time - no one has ever gone to the gutter so rapidly.  There are new lows to be explored.

 
nonverbal
 
Avatar
 
 
nonverbal
Total Posts:  1374
Joined  31-10-2015
 
 
 
13 November 2018 08:29
 

We’re experiencing growing pains right now, as we slowly and gradually mature (culturally) into thoughtful adults. The Vietnam-war era was our low point, it seems to me, as we were brutalizing fine people for no good reason, and we knew that we had no good reason, yet our leaders felt compelled to continue the insanity. Even King Leopold couldn’t have committed the level of atrocity we managed during the ‘60s and early ‘70s. To this day, we refuse to accept any responsibility for unspeakable damages we caused. Sure, we can say we’re responsible, yet many hidden land mines remain in place in Cambodia and Vietnam.

 

 
Jefe
 
Avatar
 
 
Jefe
Total Posts:  6565
Joined  15-02-2007
 
 
 
13 November 2018 09:41
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 13 November 2018 04:59 AM

Is this Trump-era Presidency really all that contentious?

IMHO, there are many aspects of this administration that should seem very contentious.

Quietly, under cover of the ridiculous tweet clown, this administration has seriously harmed the liberties of the individual in several different ways, not the least of which include:
- Serious reduction of female control over their own reproductive choices
- Serious reduction of worker ability to seek consequences for poor corporate labour choices
- Serious reduction of citizen protections from industrial pollutants
- Serious reduction of governmental accountability to the people

I could go on, but these, to me, seem pretty contentious and just as serious - if not more so - than whether the CNN White House correspondent had his press pass revoked.

 
 
Jefe
 
Avatar
 
 
Jefe
Total Posts:  6565
Joined  15-02-2007
 
 
 
13 November 2018 09:53
 

Further to that, if R-B J retires during this administration the SCOTUS is going to be so heavily biased that it will cease to function as intended. (Which does not take into account all the other appointments quietly taking place in the background at lower circuit-level positions.)

 
 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  8044
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
13 November 2018 10:28
 
nonverbal - 13 November 2018 08:29 AM

We’re experiencing growing pains right now, as we slowly and gradually mature (culturally) into thoughtful adults. The Vietnam-war era was our low point, it seems to me, as we were brutalizing fine people for no good reason, and we knew that we had no good reason, yet our leaders felt compelled to continue the insanity. Even King Leopold couldn’t have committed the level of atrocity we managed during the ‘60s and early ‘70s. To this day, we refuse to accept any responsibility for unspeakable damages we caused. Sure, we can say we’re responsible, yet many hidden land mines remain in place in Cambodia and Vietnam.

Some realities about that war that Ken Burns and Lynn Novick couldn’t include in their PBS ‘family’ documentary - https://www.amazon.com/Kill-Anything-That-Moves-American/dp/1250045061

http://vault.sierraclub.org/sierra/201101/laos.aspx

quote from the Sierra Magazine article:  “Life After Wartime - During the Vietnam War, the United States flew 580,000 bombing runs over Laos—an average of one every eight minutes for nine years. Today, Laotians live and die among 80 million unexploded munitions, some of them valuable as scrap metal or turned into flower boxes, many of them as dangerous as the day they dropped from the sky.  (see photos in article)

https://www.google.com/search?q=vietnam+war+protests+pictures&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS693US693&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj4g8S2gtLeAhUNFHwKHf-mAN4QsAR6BAgFEAE&biw=1358&bih=639

 

 

 

 

 

[ Edited: 13 November 2018 10:56 by unsmoked]
 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
Avatar
 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
Total Posts:  586
Joined  13-02-2017
 
 
 
13 November 2018 16:07
 

I’ll reply en masse.

I think much of what we are seeing in reaction to Trump comes from—tongue partially in cheek—Trump Derangement Syndrome.  Yes, the man is personally despicable and utterly incompetent, almost certainly more so than any previous President.  But so far he hasn’t done anything any other Republican president wouldn’t have done in his place, and to that point he’s done far less damage than some did in his (the idiot execution of the war in Afghanistan and the totally gratuitous war in Iraq come to mind, for starters).  Any Republican president would have signed the tax cut passed by Congress, and any Republican president would have signed off on the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, their bête noir since it was passed.  And ditto for a conservative nominee for the Supreme Court.  Just what is it, I ask, that Trump has done that is so bad, so damaging, aside from being a narcissistic freak show who sets a bad example for more bad behavior that violates customary political decorum?  As far as I can tell, the career bureaucrats in government have contained him, which is more than could be said for Bush II and his utterly reckless policy team.  That administration was its own kind of freak show of how the incompetent execution of bad policy ideas leads to disastrous effects.

As for partisanship and the contention being business-as-usual, one need only look to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the en masse shift from the previously solid Democratic south to the now unwaveringly Republican south to see just how much more partisan the country was not that long ago.  And Vietnam only built on that.  Resistance to the New Deal, Theodore Roosevelt’s trust-busting—all these eras of American politics make fighting over a Supreme Court nominee and Trump’s limited executive order policies look tame by comparison.  More was at stake in those times that directly affected the American people than Kavanaugh getting to the Court, or limiting class action lawsuits against corporations, and so forth.  By far.  And often, not just during the time up to the Civil War.

No, I still see no reason to think this time in our history is all that special or unique, except, perhaps, as a wake-up call that our form of government can put an utterly incompetent and despicable man into the Oval Office, or perhaps that the Republican Party should loose all credibility toward responsible governance for doing it.  Even Trump’s election says nothing special, as far as I can tell, unless its the obsolescence of the electoral college. In short, I have yet to see any evidence beyond TDS that this administration is a disaster, much less an unique or special disaster, for the American people or American institutions.  Instead I see all the predictable partisan denigration coming from both sides who see each other as political evil incarnate.

Now, maybe that perception has changed.  That is, there is evidence that more Americans identify as hyper-partisan on both the left and the right, though only by a relatively small margin.  In that sense, Trump may represent a magnification of a trend that was already well under way before his election, but it’s too soon to tell for that.

 
Twissel
 
Avatar
 
 
Twissel
Total Posts:  2593
Joined  19-01-2015
 
 
 
13 November 2018 22:04
 

TAP, the President is more than just his policies - he represents the US domestically and abroad.

And no President in history has been so accommodating to US rivals and so dismissive and hostile to US allies.
And no President has been so supportive of far-right extremism and White Supremacy.

 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
Avatar
 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
Total Posts:  586
Joined  13-02-2017
 
 
 
14 November 2018 02:12
 
Twissel - 13 November 2018 10:04 PM

TAP, the President is more than just his policies - he represents the US domestically and abroad.

And no President in history has been so accommodating to US rivals and so dismissive and hostile to US allies.
And no President has been so supportive of far-right extremism and White Supremacy.

Sure, Trump’s bluster and rhetoric in favor of rivals and against allies is irritating, but for the most part nothing he’s done has changed our position or hurt our credibility abroad as much as the war in Iraq and its disastrous outcome—a bad idea executed with near perfect incompetence, despite the fore-warnings.  Pulling out of the climate accords is obviously a problem, and scraping an agreement with Iran that even our rivals signed off on is almost certainly a mistake.  Ditto, perhaps, for the Pan-Pacific Partnership.  But these kinds of blunders are par for the course in power politics, and in any case, mistakes like them are not unique to Trump, nor to this period in our history.  And note: I’m not saying the man isn’t a total imbecile; that he’s any less reprehensible than he obviously is; that his policies—such as they are—aren’t for the most part bad ideas.  I’m only saying that the era of this Administration—something always larger than the President—isn’t by proper historical standards the uniquely tumultuous times we keep hearing about from the professional pundits, much less the unprecedented and unmitigated disaster it’s being painted out to be.

For instance, elaborating on something specific you mention…Republicans have been dog whistling over racism, jingoism, and xenophobia for as long as I can remember; just Trump is now using a referee’s whistle no one can creditably ignore.  He’s taken over the brand, as it were, and in typical Trump fashion he’s made it all about him.  But as it happens black nationalist movements are on the rise too (not just the far-right and white supremacists), and they have been for some time.  So the emergence of these racial and political extremist groups both precedes Trump and almost certainly would have continued without him.  Sure, he’s not helping, but he not the cause either. 

And so forth.  Again, I just don’t see this Administration as something historically unprecedented in either its mistakes or accomplishments, or Trump as a President as anything more than a self-aggrandizing clown who so far in terms of policy has done virtually nothing unique to him—again, beyond wading into stupid Twitter controversies and simply substituting making up reality as he goes for the numerous lies politicians usually tell—that he’s taken “lying” to the whole next level, as it were.  But that said, as far as I can tell the man is floundering in the office, not shaping the destiny of America.  He’s just too incompetent and weak for that, more a blip of stupidity that we will apparently weather, with some clean up and proper damage control after the storm.

Now, all this said, this time—this Presidency—may in fact turn out to be the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the world that the US is not fit to occupy the position (for better or for worse) that it occupies on the world stage; that the centrality of American power (military, economic, and cultural) has to come to an end; that the world has to kick its reliance on that power.  Now that may be the consequence that emerges from the Trump Presidency—that they look at us in gaping wonder and ask: how can we rely on a great power that permits someone so utterly stupid to lead it?  That may in fact be the historical legacy and consequence of Trump, but that is something for the future to tell, and it’s a realization arguably a long time in coming, not a reflection of the here and now of his Administration.  As this possibility stands, though, I still think its uniqueness and unprecedented danger is being greatly exaggerated.

 

[ Edited: 14 November 2018 02:20 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
Twissel
 
Avatar
 
 
Twissel
Total Posts:  2593
Joined  19-01-2015
 
 
 
14 November 2018 02:27
 

I think the problem, for me at least, is that you seem to think there is an absolute limit of political normalcy that Trump hasn’t breached yet.

But what is normal is a function of what is allowed to happen.

With his continued behavior, Trump is setting a new “normal” that future politicians can move further away from, towards even more radical anti-social norms.
The President should not be testing the limits of what is acceptable, since he is a role model;
as we have heard from more than one right-wing terrorist this year: political violence is acceptable, because the President has identified groups and individuals as “Enemies of the People”.

If you are right and Trump is still kinda normal, then in the next election cycle, you would have to accept David Duke as normal.

 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
Avatar
 
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
Total Posts:  586
Joined  13-02-2017
 
 
 
14 November 2018 03:00
 

I think the problem, for me at least, is that you seem to think there is an absolute limit of political normalcy that Trump hasn’t breached yet

Actually, if I am making any point about “normalcy,” I am making the opposite point—that there is no absolute limit of political normalcy against which to assess Trump; that the historical standards of partisanship and use of presidential power are more flexible and relative than the implied normalcy invoked by the doomsayers that this era is somehow uniquely partisan and abusive of power.

With his continued behavior, Trump is setting a new “normal” that future politicians can move further away from, towards even more radical anti-social norms.

And to that point, it is just as likely that a Democratic opponent, in order to flavor his or her own campaign, will contrast his or her own behavior and candidacy against Trump’s behavior, almost certainly as an appeal to the broad swath of voters who clearly oppose the man.  And if elected this Democrat will have in one fell swoop put to rest the “revolution” of political norms set by Trump, and things will return to normal. 

In any case, whether this happens or not, the deviancy from political decorum in politics preceded Trump; he just brought the trend to the Presidency by, again, hijacking the brand and making it all about him.  For instance, it had been noted long before Trump that the rules of collegiate decorum were vanishing in both the House and Senate, and more specific to Trump’s role, he’s only—for now—set an example for Republicans to follow.  There is so far no evidence that Democrats becoming ‘little Trumps’ with a liberal flavor have been at all successful, nor is there any reason to think that they would be.

 

[ Edited: 14 November 2018 03:05 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
Twissel
 
Avatar
 
 
Twissel
Total Posts:  2593
Joined  19-01-2015
 
 
 
14 November 2018 12:32
 

What IS, undisputably, unique about Trump is the degree to which he and his family personally profit from him being President.

 
 
 1 2 3 >