May 5, 2016
I believe I understand now why conservative supporters of Donald Trump’s candidacy are so ardent and so energized. I understand now why they continue to support him despite his floating the most absurd and despicable accusation in modern politics. I speak of Trump’s implication with zero proof that Ted Cruz’ father, Rafael, was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy. He did this despite knowing that he was going to win the Indiana primary in a landslide. Such cruelty. However, Trump supporters remain undeterred.
I understand now why conservative Trump supporters will continue to pledge allegiance to his candidacy despite his campaign making it clear that he will be moving decidedly left. His statement this week in support of increasing the minimum wage confirms this latest strategy and will be ignored by his many conservative devotees. Trump’s confessed support for gender confused men using women’s bathrooms will just fade into a fog of cognitive dissonance.
I understand now why certain conservatives will continue to back Mr. Trump despite his questionable and potentially disastrous economic policy pronouncements. His supporters will not flinch when Trump in an effort to “make America’s economy great again” promises to weaponize tariffs much like Herbert Hoover did prior to the Great Depression. Or when he boasts that he will make Apple bring iPhone production back to the United States or punish any company that would move operations to lower cost areas outside the country. Nothing to see here, dude!
I get it. I understand. Because there is an overarching reason why good conservatives are supporting Trump and are overlooking his obvious shortcomings in temperament, experience, and character. There is a much more fundamental concern that explains why they look past all of his questionable policy positions. They continue to support him because they believe Trump is the best person to win a battle that is much more strategic than any particular social issue or trade agreement.
This battle is age old and has been with mankind since humans began to congregate and live in cities. It is simply a battle for power, societal power.
The battlefield is delimited by iron-fisted tyranny on one end and pure democracy on the other. Therefore, there has always been and continues today, a constant struggle to set the balance point between individual liberty and ruling class control.
Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, described this in detail in his blueprint for a utopian society, the “Republic”. Plato saw in Athens that there were two societal protagonists that vied for power. First were the oligarchs, the few wealthy property owners whose desire was for a state in which only they could vote and hold public office. Plato then called the large number of poor citizens the democracy and they stood in opposition to the oligarchs and sought a much wider distribution of political power. Plato described an ever present antagonism between the two classes and that every city really consists of two cities that are at constant war with each other.
The antagonism Plato wrote about can be seen in full relief in our country today. This tension between the ruling elite and the people is what is fueling the Trump phenomenon. Trump supporters are saying, “Ok, so what if Trump is inarticulate and inexperienced, he still is the best guy to wrest power from an oligarchy that has robbed we, the people (Plato’s democracy) of the power and freedom our founding documents ascribe to every citizen.” Whether Trump really is the best candidate for this task is highly debatable, but I understand the logic.
Unfortunately in our mainstream discourse, the fact that our country is a representative republic and not a democracy gets lost. Pure democracies are completely unworkable. Most of us do not have the time, knowledge, or inclination to be involved in the details of our government. Therefore, we elect individuals we believe are qualified (but too often are not) to represent us in its detailed operation.
The problem is that today’s monied and powerful oligarchy pulls all the levers of the political system. Certainly, for the elected positions in the federal government, this oligarchy owns the process. They determine the candidates and the platforms they promote because they control the money and the media. Trump has very astutely positioned himself as the one man that can break the oligarchy’s grip and change the balance of power. However, he has to win a general election first and the current polls make this look highly problematic.
The problems we are facing today ultimately though fall directly on “we, the people”. While we are not directly involved in the detailed operation of our government, we have a responsibility to be vigilant and informed to the extent that we know if the officials we elected are performing their duties within Constitutional guidelines and for the good of the nation. We have failed here.
We are distracted, apathetic and lazy and have allowed a government of people of low character and brazen personal interest to metastasize into a willing tool serving their oligarchic masters. This has to stop now.
I’m to the point where anyone who wants to run for office is unfit to serve. Federal office should be a duty and a service, not a career path. We need to start identifying the right people and convince them to run. A very reluctant politician is the best politician.