Friday, 26 February 2016

America: A nation of idiots?

We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated. We’re the smartest people, we’re the most loyal people, and you know what I’m happy about? Because I’ve been saying it for a long time. 46% were the Hispanics—46%, No. 1 one with Hispanics. I’m really happy about that.
...
We have a tremendous deficit. We have a trade deficit with Mexico. They’ll pay for the wall. They’ll be very happy about it. Believe me. I’ll talk to them. They’re going to be very, very thrilled. They’re going to be thrilled to be paying for the wall.

We’re going to be the smart people. We’re not going to be the people that get pushed around all over the place. We’re going to be the smart people. You’re going to be proud of your president, and you’re going to be even prouder of your country, OK?
From Donald Trump's Nevada victory speech

Donald Trump really does do a come across as a halfwit. But perhaps it's just an impersonation. Maybe he's not that stupid, but just thinks Americans are.

Writing at Salon.com, Sean Illing suggests:
Trump’s wager was simple: Pretend to be stupid and angry because that’s what stupid and angry people like. He’s held up a mirror to the country, shown us how blind and apish we are. He knew how undiscerning the populace would be, how little they cared about details and facts. In Nevada, for instance, 70 percent of Trump voters said they preferred an “anti-establishment” candidate to one with any “experience in politics.” Essentially, that means they don’t care if he understands how government works or if he has the requisite skills to do the job. It’s a protest vote, born of rage, not deliberation.

In no other domain of life would this make any sense at all. If your attorney drops the ball, you don’t hire a plumber to replace him. And yet millions of Trumpites say they don’t care if Trump has ever worked at any level of government or if he knows anything about foreign policy or the law or the Constitution. It’s enough that he greets them at their level, panders to their lowest instincts.
It's hard to know which parts of Trump's bluster are sincere and which are hyperbole. I'm sure a large portion of the stupidity is genuine. He's a simpleton who inherited money and connections, who has had employees who have made him successful. He has been surrounded by lackeys and yes men that have sheltered him and created a narcissistic, immature showman.

A couple of weeks ago Ezra Klein penned a piece for Vox which I thought about linking to but didn't get round to doing so. In arguing that the rise of Donald Trump is a terrifying moment in American politics, Klein pointed out:
It is undeniably enjoyable to watch Trump. He's red-faced, discursive, funny, angry, strange, unpredictable, and real. He speaks without filter and tweets with reckless abandon. The Donald Trump phenomenon is a riotous union of candidate ego and voter id. America's most skilled political entertainer is putting on the greatest show we've ever seen.

It's so fun to watch that it's easy to lose sight of how terrifying it really is.

Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory. He pairs terrible ideas with an alarming temperament; he's a racist, a sexist, and a demagogue, but he's also a narcissist, a bully, and a dilettante. He lies so constantly and so fluently that it's hard to know if he even realizes he's lying. He delights in schoolyard taunts and luxuriates in backlash.
And:
Trump's other gift — the one that gets less attention but is perhaps more important — is his complete lack of shame. It's easy to underestimate how important shame is in American politics. But shame is our most powerful restraint on politicians who would find success through demagoguery. Most people feel shame when they're exposed as liars, when they're seen as uninformed, when their behavior is thought cruel, when respected figures in their party condemn their actions, when experts dismiss their proposals, when they are mocked and booed and protested.

Trump doesn't. He has the reality television star's ability to operate entirely without shame, and that permits him to operate entirely without restraint. It is the single scariest facet of his personality. It is the one that allows him to go where others won't, to say what others can't, to do what others wouldn't.


In the recent Nevada Primary, Trump polled 45% and won handily. Super Tuesday, which decides a large number of delegates and could cement Trump in the lead position, is next week. Trump is favoured to win handily. Americans can't be that stupid, can they?

There's a good chance that Trump will get to the end of the primary process with the largest number of delegates. If Trump wins the nomination. I would like to think that would hand the election to the Democratic candidate - likely Hillary Clinton. I mean, Americans can't be that stupid, can they?

Another possibility is that Trump will have the most delegates, but not the required fifty percent. A second or third round could see a less repulsive candidate, such as Marco Rubio or John Kasich, win the nomination. The general election could be close, unless Trump then ran as an independent and handed the election to Clinton.

Or Trump could get the nomination, but an establishment Republican candidate could stand as a third party or independent candidate. Fracturing the Republican vote, this would be good for the Democrats.

Maybe Trump will have a big announcement to make on the first of April, and walk away chuckling at his joke. Please, please let that be the case.

Surely Trump can't become the US President. Americans can't be that stupid, can they?

Links
Ezra Klein at Vox: The rise of Donald Trump is a terrifying moment in American politics
Sean Illing at Salon: America, you’re stupid: Donald Trump’s political triumph makes it official — we’re a nation of idiots


Addendum: Like many others, I can't help but think of the movie Idiocracy when watching Trump. Yesterday the movie's writer, Etan Cohen, tweeted:
Here's the trailer for the movie:

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