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November 12, 2016

Comments

Picador

Justin:

I've been reading you for ten years. I expressed some skepticism when you claimed that Trump was an agent of Putin (as opposed to an unwitting stooge), and I still find that accusation to be hyperbolic; otherwise, though, I agree with your criticisms of Trump and agree that we should try not to normalize him. He's the worst -- worse than those that came before.

The language you use to situate him historically, however, strikes me as odd. Yes, he campaigned on a platform of white supremacy, authoritarianism, handouts for wealthy corporations at the expense of the people, environmental deregulation, and all-around political reaction to the liberal progress of the late 20th century. Yes, his rhetoric was a matrix of transparent lies and show-biz inanities. His election was a farce, and he is a television caricature of a politician rather than what we like to think of as an actual politician. But... where have you been for the last 36 years? Or more particularly, for the last 24? More acutely still, for the last 16? The things you say about Trump could be -- and were -- said about George W. Bush and Dick Cheney with equal truth. The 2000 election was a farce as well. To arguably a lesser extent, so was the 1992 election, and so was the 1980 election. We should have refused to normalize the platforms of those candidates as well, because they too were unthinkable and immeasurably destructive, but we did normalize them. And life went on. It was just shittier.

I support your mission. It's just that nothing in your writing supports the thesis that Trump represents an historical discontinuity any more than the elections of Reagan, Clinton, or Bush did. Voodoo economics and "welfare queen" rhetoric were intolerable; so was the "triangulation" strategy that turned the former opposition party of labour and liberal tolerance into a me-too party of white supremacy and corporate handouts; so was torture and the police state (with yet another round of handouts for moneyed interests) in 2000. Yet we've apparently tolerated them. Perhaps we should stop. But if we don't, we'll, maybe we'll get another chance to do so in 2020 or 2024 or 2028 or, you know, whenever.

Sincerely,
Picador

Picador

I should be more specific in addressing your concerns about a Trump presidency, things like:

1. He will engage in nuclear brinksmanship with Russia (as Reagan did)

2. He will start wars to bolster/distract from his image at home (like Bush and Clinton did, repeatedly and shamelessly)

3. He will play fast and loose with America's nuclear arsenal (everyone in power in Washington, up to and including Elizabeth Warren, has earnestly stated that the US should consider using nuclear weapons against Iran)

4. He will dismantle social welfare programs and hand the spoils to wealthy corporations (how much of this work is even still possible after Reagan, Clinton and Bush did it so effectively for so long?)

5. He will appoint grossly unqualified hyper-reactionary stooges to the Supreme Court (remember Harriet Myers? Or for that matter Clarence Thomas?)

Etc etc. Is there any policy where the evidence points to Trump doing something qualitatively different from his predecessors? If so, I haven't seen it.

Murray Reiss

What does Trump being "old" and "elderly" have to do with anything?

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