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Cheap Shots

There have been a variety of posts coming out recently critiquing the left for dismissing Trump's candidacy (Hillbilly Elegy, Strangers in their Own Land, and others). Today, it's Fabius Maximuson on Matt Taibi.

These critiques claim that people on the right are offended by liberals who refuse engage with them on the issues: Why they lose: the Left tells us that Trump is like Hitler. I can see why they might call it a cheap shot.

But it's actually not. Trump ACTUALLY IS a fascist, by claiming irrationally that he's the only one that can fix things; by creating a cult of personality; by asserting that torture works and he'll use more of it; by claiming he can unilaterally circumvent the constitution to discriminate against people based on race and religion. Trump ACTUALLY DOES espouse anti-science and anti-reality positions. Trump is a fraud and a liar. It is not a cheap shot to point these things out. Rather, it is a cheap shot to claim that liberals "dismiss" Trump just because he spouts lies that some people want to hear. And a bunch of Trump's simplistic ideas are just stupid: like The Wall.

The US could build "a wall", but it would be a terrible use of resources. It would be much better to assess how best to effect change and to use the money thoughtfully for a hundred different policies (e.g. hire more staff, build better databases, etc.) and investments (buy drones, cameras, and early detection systems) that would give us the greatest bang for the buck. But that's complicated and requires policy wonks to develop and implement. And, unfortunately, that's not what a lot of people want to hear.

After the Massachusetts primary, I mused about the situation as I saw it: namely that there is a strong anti-establishment wind blowing in both parties and that it was a terrible mistake for the Democrats to double-down on the one person who is perhaps the greatest living embodiment of the elite establishment candidate.

while establishment Democrats would probably line up behind whoever the nominee is, the disaffected people will not. I suspect they will probably be a lot more willing to cross party lines: They don't care who burns everything down, as long as someone does. I really worry that being able to tap into the disaffected vote of both parties might be enough to carry Trump to victory.

The Democrats could have chosen Bernie. This is a consistent fatal pattern with the Democrats: picking the candidate whose turn it is, rather than looking at what the times and circumstances require. Still: we live in a democracy (sort of) and the people have spoken (sort of) and we'll just have to live with the consequences.

Trump does not take positions

If one thing makes me angry about coverage during this political campaign, it's the assertion that Donald Trump might change his positions. From the Guardian:

Some in the crowd sensed that behind the brash reiteration of mass deportations Trump was in fact edging towards a more moderate, viable, policy. “I think he’s loosening up, becoming more realistic,” said Nancy Lewis, 56, a retired law enforcer. “And I’m OK with that. I have Hispanic friends.”

No. If one thing has become clear, Donald Trump does not take positions. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He does have some tendencies and prejudices that show up frequently, like xenophobia, ignorance, and vituperativeness. But these are not policy positions. He does not have a set of well-thought-out or carefully considered set of policies on anything.

Perhaps this is what attracts some people to him. Perhaps most people are like him in this regard: it's the rare person that can actually develop and maintain a coherent set of positions. In fact, nobody can really do it without a broadly trained set of policy advisors. But the mistake is believing that anything that Trump says represents an underlying, considered position. The only thing that is a constant is his ceaseless effort to angle for a momentary advantage.

It's a very weird election cycle.

Houseparty at Vickery's

Last night, I attended a houseparty at Peter Vickery's for John Bonifaz, a candidate for secretary of the commonwealth. He gave an excellent talk that described how he'd been led to found the National Voting Rights Institute to try to advance a radical agenda that every vote be counted and other extreme ideas, laid out in a Voter's Bill of Rights. He's got my support.

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