The politics of high fantasy

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Beyond railing against the wreckage, the other commonality between the two big New Hampshire winners is in the nature of the cure they offer. Let the others propose carefully budgeted five-point plans. Sanders and Trump offer magic.

Take Sanders’ New Hampshire victory speech. It promised the moon: college education, free; universal health care, free; world peace, also free because we won’t be “the policeman of the world” (mythical Sunni armies will presumably be doing that for us). Plus a guaranteed $15 minimum wage. All to be achieved by taxing the rich. Who can be against a “speculation” tax (whatever that means)?

So with Trump. Leave it to him. Jobs will flow back in a rush from China, from Japan, from Mexico, from everywhere. Universal health care, with Obamacare replaced by “something terrific.” Veterans finally taken care of. Drugs stopped cold at the border. Indeed, an end to drug addiction itself. Victory upon victory of every kind.

How? That question never comes up anymore. No one expects an answer. His will be done, on Earth if not yet in heaven. Yes, people love Trump’s contempt for the “establishment” — which as far as I can tell means anything not Trump — but what is truly thrilling is the promise of a near-biblical restoration. As painless as Sanders’.

I would say that this above all is my biggest problem with Trump. As good a deal maker as he claims he is, he really seems to have a very childish and naive understanding of what he’ll be able to do once in the White House. Worse, he might very well decide that following the Constitution is too much of a bother, and that though he might think that Obama had the right idea to chew hard at its limits along the edges, maybe it would be better if President Trump tore it apart with his teeth.

Even more frightening to me is the apparent naive belief the electorate seems to have in these pie-in-the-sky promises. Our civilized society cannot stand if our citizenry has become so muddled-brained that it sees these promises as realistic.


  • Wodun

    The only thing I take Trump at his word on his love of country and desire to see it better than it is. Sanders comes off as another Obama, who dislikes our country and wants to see it weakened.

  • Garry

    I think that in some cases Trump is naive, but in others that he has no faith in the things that he says, but is talking tough in order to lay out a tough bargaining position. I think he sees much of life through the filter of negotiating.

    For example, his opening position is that he will build the wall on the border, and make Mexico pay for it. So what happens in the end? Does Mexico’s refusal to pay give him cover to give up on the idea entirely? Or does he make a token effort to convince Congress, and use their refusal as cover? Or does he try to build it, and try to pass some fat contracts to his cronies?

    I think that on the whole we put way too much stock in what presidential candidates say; after all, there’s not much they can do to change the course of the country without Congress. I have hopes (not expectations, but merely hopes) that Trump, if elected, may be able to work with Congress more effectively than the past few presidents, more than likely behind the scenes, because of his negotiation skills. I think that was one of Reagan’s skills that people often overlook; he gained it as head of the Screen Actor’s Guild. Having said that, my experience working with New York City businesspeople doesn’t bode well for Trump or any New York City businessperson going for a win-win scenario.

  • Cotour

    I agree, Trump must begin to flesh out, communicate and solidify his understanding and belief in the Constitution and its parameters and raise himself up above who he is today to realize his full potential as president. I do not know how long this may take once in office, if indeed he makes it that far, but I believe that he has the potential. I think this eventuality has been accepted by the Republican leadership who based on what ever understanding they have come to with Trump will have a lot to say about who will be in the number two position, and that will be their compromise. The numbers have to be paid attention to.

    I also believe that the real earth shattering shake up will occur in the Democrat party and its leadership once it is understood that Hillary although she has the broader rhetoric is unacceptable to the majority of the constituents and can not win, and when it is realized that Sanders while growing in popularity is a massive tax and spend dedicated, bona-fied socialist and can not win. The weight of these growing realizations will tend to bring others into the contest, but that moment in time is approaching quickly and it may become too late and will result in total chaos.

    The thing to remember is that all of these aspiring political leaders will pretty much say what ever is necessary to become empowered by the people through election. The biggest viable “liar” will probably prevail, and that at this moment in time IMO is Trump.

  • BSJ

    Il Duce Trump is as much a Constitutionalist as he is a Christian Conservative.

  • Bingo! Il Duce is the perfect description of Trump. Long before Mussolini aligned himself with Hitler and thus lost any support from the United States, he was much admired by many for getting Italy working again. At the time, being called a fascist was not considered evil, and in fact, was much admired in liberal circles.

    Trump is not admired in liberal circles, but his whole personality and campaign strategy mirrors that of the dictators of the 1930s. Who knows what he’ll do once in power.

    And once again, I remain horrified that modern Americans are enthralled with such a campaign.

  • Cotour

    I did not say that he was one but he must at some point, to validate himself, become one or demonstrate his basic understanding and belief in the Constitution and our country’s sovereignty. This is what I mean by rising above himself and becoming more than instead of less than. Can or will he pass that test? It remains to be seen.

    Its not going to be perfect but its probably going to be what we are going to have to go with.

  • Cotour

    The American political discussion has been driven to the extremes by the leadership of both parties, so extremism is what it will be, be horrified. I understand your concern.

    Our only hope is that he will realize what an American leader must realize and be measured in his empowerment as he attempts to wrestle this monster back into line.

  • You really do sound like you live in a naive dream world. Just as too many naive voters expected Obama to “grow” when he got into office, and didn’t, neither will Trump. To give any candidate any encouragement based on this fantasy is tragic, and will only lead to disaster.

    Sadly, it appears that the Republican electorate is on your side. Be prepared for very bad things to come.

  • BSJ

    For a long time now I’ve thought the Trump v. Hitler comparisons to be way off base.

    Trump is a little Benito. Watch a Mussolini speech. Trump’s got the same arm waving, the same posturing and worst of all the same stupid facial expressions!

    Mussolini was a Socialist, before he denounced them and became a Fascist.

    But I guess we should give Mussolini a break, he just wanted to Make Italy Great Again.

  • Cotour

    “You really do sound like you live in a naive dream world.”

    My comments are based more on observations related to the mood of the general public and the politics of the day rather than dreams or fantasy’s, don’t shoot the messenger. You seem to want what you are not going to get (Ted Cruz), so tell me, who is having the fantasy? Wring your hands, I will be right by your side.

    I would love to vote for Ted Cruz, but its not going to happen. Maybe someday, he is a young man, but not in this cycle from what I can see at the moment. If you notice based on Trumps recent comments he is currently in the process of transforming how he approaches the way that he presents himself. George Washington? Mussolini? My optimistic nature has a George Washington bias, time will tell the tale.

  • pzatchok

    What I want in a president and congress?
    That they do nothing. Not a damn thing.
    If a president was elected and I heard nothing about them for the next 4 years I would vote them back in no questions asked. Republican, Democrat or zombie clown space alien.

    I sometimes think of the government as parents.
    Moms compassion for the kids is fine but at some point dad has to do his part and either let the children fail or punish them.
    Think of the liberals as mom and the conservatives as dad.
    Moms winning all the arguments lately and the kids are taking advantage of the parents.

    Hillary sounds like a mom who is loosing control of the family. The kids have no respect for her anymore.
    Bernie sounds like the crazy uncle who has never held a real job and obviously never raised any children. But thinks he has it all figured out.
    Trump sounds like the successful used car salesman uncle. No real clue about whats going on in the world, but has all the answers. Even though he doesn’t quite understand the questions all the time.

    Cruz sounds like the reasonable and educated father trying to get his point across without yelling.

    Lets see if the kids hear him and some at least listen.

  • Steve Earle

    February 13, 2016 at 1:24 am
    “…What I want in a president and congress?
    That they do nothing. Not a damn thing…”

    “…I sometimes think of the government as parents…”


    We need “Silent Cal” Coolidge again. :-)

    And great analogy with a dysfunctional family. Uncle Trump puts the “fun” back in dysfunctional LOL!

    Who do you think Rubio is in this family? There is still the chance that the RNC gets him in as their puppet of choice :-(

  • pzatchok

    Rubio is Cruz’s little brother. The uncle who just got married and is just starting a family.

  • Steve Earle

    Yes, the little brother that hasn’t figured out how to make up for that time he joined a gang while he was a teenager….

  • Edward

    The article’s comparison with Argentina and the Perons is very much like what I have been telling my friends and family for a while. ‘Don’t cry for *me*, Argentina. Cry for what my husband and I will do to your country.’

    Obama has been doing this to us for the better part of a decade, and Hillary Clinton, Trump, Sanders, and Bloomberg (if he gets in on the act) will continue along the same routes that the Perons as well as Japan took.

    When Japan’s bloom faded in the late 1980s, they took the route that Bush/Obama later would take of bailing out its banking industry, and Japan stagnated ever since. However, the US took the route that TARP was originally supposed to take, cleaning the bad loans out of the system and merging insolvent Savings and Loans with healthy banks, and prolonged a boom economy that Bill Clinton took credit for. Obama coaxed Bush to change TARP’s purpose to that of Japan’s bailout, and we have stagnated, like Japan, ever since, with Obama rewarding his friends and punishing his enemies.

    The Perons took Argentina on a ride on the crony capitalist highway, which looks and works similar to fascism, and that is the road that Obama, and many of our current candidates favor, just as post-Peron leaders in Argentina chose.

    A century ago, Argentina was the other power house in the Americas. This century, it had to steal its citizen’s retirement savings in order to stay afloat. How Cypriotic.

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