Winning at Any Cost…. And Manners

Donald Trump is clearly following the path taken by a certain deplored German political figure in the 1930s. He says what his followers want to hear, even when his opponents can prove that he cannot do what he promises – at least not within the structure of law and the Constitution, and the hard constraints of finance. He utters vicious attacks on anyone who displeases him, attacks that are more often completely untrue than anywhere close to accurate. He bullies everyone who tries to point out his errors, and he attacks the entire political structure as being rigged against him. In fact, anyone who opposes him or suggests he might be in error becomes an enemy and the subject of his wrath.

As far as the political arena goes, decorum, civility, manners – they mean nothing to him, because he believes his cause is just and righteous, and no means that will achieve it can be too low or crude or vicious not to be employed.

When his opponent points out flaws in what he has said or promised, she is the liar, the “crooked” liar, although impartial observers have documented that over 70% of his promises and statements are mostly or entirely false, while only about 30% of hers are mostly or entirely false. His response to this has been to claim that those impartial observers are against him, because he doesn’t see facts as facts. He sees them as impediments to his gaining power.

Now… if the polls are correct, at this point, Trump seems likely to lose, but unhappily, no matter what occurs in November, we are all going to lose. We are going to lose because scorched earth politics, brutal name-calling, disregard of the facts, and blatant appeals to the worst in human nature will most likely result in a Congress even more polarized than the current Congress, an electorate more polarized and unwilling to trust anyone not firmly on “their side,” and an economy that is going downhill, because neither party is willing to adopt a bi-partisan economic reform package that has to include [if anything has a chance of getting better] both fiscal restraint and true tax reform, meaning, among other things, slightly higher tax rates on the top half of one percent and much lower corporate tax rates, but with absolutely no exemptions or loopholes. And that’s just the beginning of what’s necessary.

And it’s not going to happen because, no matter who wins, the other side is going to feel not only cheated, but totally disenfranchised, largely because this long and painful election campaign has been about each side portraying the other as worse than anything possible.

Trump is right about some things, such as the pain of the white male industrial worker and that, whether it’s unfounded or not, that people are worried about what they see as unrestricted illegal immigration. Clinton is also right about some things as well, such as the fact that, like it or not, the U.S. cannot bully the rest of the world, not because we’re not powerful, but because we can’t afford the military presence necessary to do that. Bullying people around doesn’t work, as we’ve discovered in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, without boots on the ground, and we don’t have enough men and women in boots, and the soldiers and sailors wearing those boots don’t have enough equipment, enough maintenance, and enough support to fight all the fights that Trump would have us fight, especially not with the huge federal deficit.

And neither one really has a decent plan to deal with that deficit, although both give it passing lip service.

That, in itself, wouldn’t be insurmountable, except that Congress is also hate-polarized, and doesn’t seem able to surmount the mutual antipathy that the parties have for each other… or perhaps it might be more accurate to say that individual members lack the courage to work out something because the hatred out there among the electorate might well result in their losing their next election if any member crosses party lines.

There’s always been a reason for manners in society, and in functioning governments. That reason is simple. Manners allow people to talk to each other, even when they don’t like each other and what they stand for. And that’s the biggest problem with Donald Trump. He’s shredded the last vestige of political manners… and we’re all going to pay for it – unless we reject that approach to politics.

7 thoughts on “Winning at Any Cost…. And Manners”

  1. Frank says:

    On the money. Right between the eyes. Bull’s eye. Dead on. Couldn’t agree more.

    I agree with the assessment of our current situation, but, even more, I agree with the concluding thought…i.e., that our descent into this paranoid hate mongering is caused by/signaled by/needs as a remediation – a return to civility.

    I’m told very often that I’m “old fashioned,” or sometimes just “old,” but there was a reason for manners and we seem to have forgotten the reason as we lost our use of those manners. When was the last time you heard the term “loyal opposition” used to describe a political opponent? A darned long time ago, I’ll bet.

    The facts you point out about Trump’s statements being 70% either false or partially false, while Hillary’s are “only” 30%…it is ridiculous that we are at this point. I think we, the electorate, need to face the fact that it is, at least in part, our fault. We should have “kicked the bums out” long ago, when we had a choice. Now we only seem to be able to pick the lesser bum.

  2. R. Hamilton says:

    The first paragraph could apply equally to both candidates.
    “vast right wing conspiracy”, “deplorables”, plenty more examples. Giving either one a pass is unjustified. It’s a question of which one can hold one’s nose for. One has a record of sleeping while people die (some time after posturing about who you want to answer the phone at 3:00 in the morning), the other doesn’t. For me, between that and the left’s constant pursuit of power by spending other people’s money and liberty, I find it an easy enough (if less than pleasing) choice.

  3. Tim says:

    After talking to some US citizens in the UK, a phrase comes to mind : your enemy’s enemy is your friend, regardless of how bad they are.

    In the past most US people I knew were quite loyal to their roots and the boundaries were clear. This year however, it appears there could still be a surprise. Like BreXit.

  4. darcherd says:

    While there are some worrying parallels between Herr Hitler and Mr. Trump, let’s keep some perspective. Trump does not have an overarching ideology that supports his appeals to intolerance and mean-spiritedness and which might serve to bind his supporters to a larger vision, nor does he have a private army of Brown Shirts at his beck and call willing to beat up and murder opponents. This is not to say that I don’t believe Trumps election would be a disaster for the country, but neither is the present-day USA in any wise in as dangerous a position as Germany in 1932.

    Far and away the most dangerous and worrisome of Trumps ridiculous utterances are the ones of late claiming (before the fact) that the election is rigged. This kind of talk is toxic to a true democracy, which utterly depends on the loser accepting their defeat. And one thing that Trump has shown over his long and undistinguished career is that he is a bad winner and an even worse loser. Our best hope is that the election results are not even close, thus undermining any realistic claims of electoral skullduggery. Should they turn out to be close, and Trump were to take the next logical step of calling upon his followers to take to the streets in protest a la Obrador in Mexico a couple of elections back, or, even worse, calling upon the “2nd Amendment people” to “make sure Hillary Clinton never takes office”, it could plunge the country into another civil war. And that’s the real nightmare scenario.

  5. Daze says:

    This morning I had another talk with Herr Trump. … I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Now I recommend you go home, and sleep quietly in your beds.

  6. JM says:

    Sadly this is the first time I’ll be able to vote on the presidency. Regardless of my choice the outcome looks grim. Several of my fellow college students are expecting some form of rioting after the election and I am by nature far too paranoid to disagree.

    On a side note I just finished re-reading The Ecolition Matter. It’s was a good read when I first chanced upon it eight years ago (I was browsing my father’s bookshelf) and even now I still find it to be a fascinating, and modernity relevant, saga. Perhaps too relevant… But alas that is part of why I enjoy L.E.M.’s books so much. They facilitate far more fascinating thoughts and observations than more mainstream forms of entertainment.

  7. TOM says:

    I just finished reading “Treachery’s Tools”; even while realizing that it was written some time ago, I could not help being reminded of our present political and social condition by some of your comments e.g. p 486 cause of treachery – pride, ignorance, arrogance, and greed.
    Your character’s solutions are quite applicable to the preindustrial society you conjure up but I wonder how Alastar or anyone would handle the masses factor of our present society (something that Trump is making use of and also resulted in GW Bush being re-elected despite the invasion of Iraq. (Did you hear the previous mayor of New York stating that the Iraq war was caused by false intelligence about weapons of mass destruction from our ‘socialist’ intelligence agencies?!))

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