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Trump the Demagogue: Behavior Characteristic of a Would-be Tyrant: Twice-Monthly Rallies

2018-03-12

Our president appears to depend on rallies to shore up his psychological well-being: he has been having big rallies (5,000 people or more) an average of twice a month since he was inaugurated.  This is not purely because he announced his candidacy for re-election in 2020.  He also gets a personal boost from the adulation of crowds and delivers some of his most obnoxious statements at rallies as applause lines.  For example, he recently introduced publicly his imaginary solution to the drug problem: the death penalty for drug dealers.  If you think Mexico had violence problems when it cracked down on drug trafficking, “you ain’t seen nothing yet” like what would happen if drug dealers were dealt with in such a crude, counterproductive, and unconstitutional way (remember there is a prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments” and what could be crueler than the death penalty?)

What is particularly repellent about this psychological dependency on the love of the crowd is that he responds at rallies with rambling, hour-and-a-half long “speeches” in which he repeats his talking points, lies, exaggerations, insults, and one-liners.  He may use a speechwriter but a large proportion of his speeches depends on things he has dreamt up on his own, often on the spot, and hones according to the level of crowd reaction.

He obtains what little information he gets from Fox “News” and there is a positive feedback relationship between the two: he often suggests topics, then feeds off the resulting “news” segments that bear the hyper-conservative stamp, the half-truths, and the outright lies that for which Fox’s commentators are specialists in response to his expressions of interest.

This president is far gone into being a demagogue and this signals a terrible danger to the US public: his point of view is reinforced, the hypnotic attachment of his core supporters is strengthened, and the anti-democratic pitch of his policies is further exaggerated.  A minority of one-third of the public could exert control over the majority by removing the controls that democracy was supposed to have to prevent tyranny.

Let us take tariffs for example: for thirty years, he has been an outspoken protectionist with little or no understanding of the real meaning of trade balances.  He thinks that, somehow, when we buy something from another country without selling them an equal amount of stuff we are the losers.  Never mind that we are richer by the value of the items that we have bought.   Never mind that the raw figures in a balance of trade sheet leave out intangibles like the exchange of services such as intellectual expertise.  Never mind that the money we spend in another country is spent by the other country in ways that usually enrich us (tourism, for example, or the hiring of American providers who pay taxes on their salaries.)  Despite having graduated from the Wharton school of business, he appears to have learned nothing about business.

The tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum show how backward-thinking this president’s behavior is.  Forward-thinking “futurologists” have predicted that the production of cars will be reduced more than 90% as a result of the introduction of autonomous vehicles because cars will not have to sit in parking lots all day waiting for their owners to get out of work.  The cars will be available to transport other people who will need them for the short term: errands, shopping, and the like.  Wives (sorry, feminists) will no longer need to drive their breadwinners to the railroad station or the office in order to drive home, then leave again to run errands.  Cars will be able to drive themselves home after dropping off their passengers.

Because of this drop in the sales of new cars, the need for steel and aluminum to build them will be drastically reduced as well.  Since we already produce 75% of the steel that we consume domestically, it is likely that our entire steel needs will be satisfied by domestic production and new producing plants will not be needed.

It is likely that production will shift to batteries and solar panels as a result of technological advances in these devices and increases in the use of battery-powered cars with increasing range, capacity, and speed.  Has Mr. Trump even seen this coming?  Are there any plans in hand with members of his administration?  No?  Mr. Trump’s entire vision is focused on self-aggrandizement and re-election and he cannot see the FBI slowly gathering evidence of his money-laundering and acceptance of enormous financial assistance (in addition to assistance with cyber-sabotage) from the Russian government.  He is already obstructing justice in every way he knows how and violating the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution every day with his Trump Washington DC hotel.

The only check on Mr. Trump’s autocratic power that is available is a massive surge of Democratic votes that will re-establish Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress.  If this does not happen, we will be in for a very rough time, as America becomes more and more of a dictatorship.  Oligarchy is bad enough (it at least gives room to rational voices in favor of our survival on Earth) but dictatorship is inherently unstable and inefficient.  We are facing an opponent (Russia) that has established a relatively stable oligarchy, albeit one dependent on the sale and consumption of fossil fuels for the monetary support of its government.  If we totally sink into a dictatorship, we will be at a serious competitive disadvantage.

Our other “opponent”, China, has been an oligarchy for some time; its endorsement of a dictatorial leader recently makes a confusing picture.  It would appear that China will continue to be an oligarchy and that Xi Jinping will exercise his dictatorial powers with discretion; Xi will be a figurehead, a Chinese “God” whose every pronouncement is law but is subject to endless interpretations and obfuscation by practical translations.  That leaves the United States, where its “God” speaks plainly and clearly, needing no interpretation, in a condition like Nazi Germany in 1933: trembling on the edge of tyranny.

(image courtesy of pixabay.com and johnhain)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Ataraxik permalink
    2018-03-12 07:49

    I think he likes holding rallies because it pumps and pysches him up. Keeps him closer to his supporters as well, meaning he’s more likely to get re-elected next term. Personally, I find the comparisons of Trump with dictators to be getting old.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 2018-03-12 09:08

      So the comparisons are getting old? You didn’t say whether you agreed or disagreed with those comparisons.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ataraxik permalink
        2018-03-14 09:22

        I’m saying the comparisons between Trump, who could forget the classic one: “he’s literally Hitler,” are becoming cliché and tiring to hear. I just think he’s a potty-mouthed businessman who knows how to work an audience, that’s it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • 2018-03-14 11:07

        He’s certainly not anything like Hitler. It’s not the Jews who have to worry now. I get the impression that you are trying to diminish the importance and danger of what he is doing. What I pointed out in the post was that he is obsessed with doing this because of his demagogic character, the way he loves to work a crowd and lives for their adulation… what is clear to me at least is that the people (35-40% of them anyway) are too stupid to realize they are being artificially whipped up with lies and exploited by his speeches (He supposedly did read Hitler’s speeches) to vote for people who want to take away their actual government support and give it to armaments manufacturers. People like every Republican in Congress, who are all in debt to fascist-admiring billionaires… It is obvious to me that 1/3 of the people can take over the government and turn it into a fascist parody of democracy while they hobble the economy with protectionist policies, destabilize the world militarily, and try to stick with the oil economy while the polar ice caps melt. That’s dangerous and I’m sorry if I am repeating myself, crying in the wilderness apparently. It would be boring except that it is terrifying.

        Liked by 1 person

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