After Sen. Graham advised Trump, Jr. to take the 5th because of criminal liability, Curious1 wondered if there’s a way to stop all of the obstruction:
We’re in for quite a bit more Trump-GOP lawbreaking, I’m afraid.
Trump’s supporters know he is a law breaker.
Many voted for him BECAUSE he is a law breaker.
The problem isn’t a lawbreaker in the White House. The problem is that a major political party supports him and 42% of the population approves of him.
If a clear majority of the population and the leaders of both parties were appalled by Trump, removing him and stopping the lawbreaking would be easy.
I think it helps to understand why Trump has 42% approval rating despite everything that we know about him.
Reason #1: Some Trump supporters want to destroy the federal government because of a “crisis of legitimacy” which happens when people don’t think the government governs on their behalf.
They think the “political establishment is favoring new groups over established groups.” They think these “new” groups (immigrants, minorities, etc.) are displacing them—the “real” Americans. Exactly what Laura Ingraham explained here.
Reason #2: Some Trump supporters cheer his lawbreaking because they don’t believe the laws he is breaking should exist. They want to go back to the 1920s, before the New Deal, Civil Rights legislation, and regulatory agencies
They hate the laws and regulations that, in their view, infringes on their personal liberty. They want to be able to do what they want, and those pesky laws get in the way. Trump’s family history illustrates this kind of thinking. For more on that, click here.
Reason #3: Russia Love: The people who hold to reasons #1 and #2 look “with longing eyes” to Russia as the savior of America; in particular, the savior of the white race.
Reason #4: Greed. You can get richer faster if you ignore the laws.
You can get richer even faster if you take Russian money. Russia has been pumping money into the NRA for decades. And of course, into the Trump Org.
The idea is popular that the Trump-Fox-GOP kowtows to Russia because they’re compromised.
I suggest they WANT the alliance. (These aren’t mutually exclusive. There can be kompromat AND a desire for an alliance. But I suggest the Russians don’t need to blackmail their allies.)
There’s not a lot we can do about the people who support Trump for those reasons, other than build a large enough coalition to outvote them and push those views back to the political fringes.
Here’s the thing: The percentage of people holding those views should be about 33%.
Hofstadter, in his classic 1964 book, described & predicted Trump supporters.
Hofstadter viewed American politics from before the founding of the nation to McCarthyism. He noticed a pattern. A small impassioned minority on the fringes exerted political leverage beyond their numbers.
He called their behavior the “paranoid style” and said they “feel dispossessed.” They feel “America has been largely taken away from them and their kind,” and they are “determined to repossess” America and prevent what they see as the “final act of subversion.”
Hofstadter specifically said that about 1/3 of the population the paranoid style. That 1/3 corresponds to the number given by researchers who say that about 1/3 of the population is inclined toward authoritarianism. See for example, Karen Stenner.
If in fact Trump’s support was at 33%, we’d have an easy time removing him from office.
The problem is that his support hovers at about 42% I get my numbers from the 538 aggregate, which prevents the temptation to cherrypick outlying polls.
42% approval makes Trump unpopular, but not unpopular enough for the kind of Congressional majorities necessary to remove a corrupt president from office.
I’ve been watching these numbers closely since 2016 because of the inherent power of strong majority.
About 10% of Trump’s approval, therefore, should be soft. We should be able to cut into that.
But his approval has remained consistently at 42%, regardless of what is in the news, and what awful things come out about him. He can even steal from charity, and it hardly registers.
So we must look for other reasons for Trump’s strange support and ability to corrupt this country.
Reason #5: Trump has a strange effect on people. James Comey talked about how he corrupts people here.
Comey said: “people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump. . .” Read this passage:
Others have talked about how Trump does this, how he pulls people in, manipulates them, and gets them on his “side.”
Reason #6: In tribal (us v. them) politics, if “our” team does it, it’s okay.
There is an incredible passage in Max Boot’s book beginning on page 165.
Boot looks back on a lifetime of conservative / Republican activism, and asks where things went wrong. How did Trump happen?
He wrote this:
Notice the part about how GOP members ignore “sins” in the name of “unity” on the right.
As a result of all this, lawbreaking is no longer disqualifying in the GOP. In fact, it’s become a badge of honor. Lawbreakers are widely seen as heroes.
This astonishing video shows the ovation and applause Roger Stone received at a GOP event in VA after his indictment.
It’s hard to bring lawbreakers to justice when those lawbreakers have widespread support and are widely viewed as heroes.
I suggest the main reason we can’t chip off Trump’s soft support is Reason #7.
Reason #7: Trump manipulates everyone (with very few exceptions) by creating chaos, crisis, and spectacle, and pulling everyone into a never ending game of whack-a-lie. He keeps his critics outraged.
When we are outraged, furious, and spinning (and even predicting an apocalypse) we can’t think straight or form rational plans. Hence, the Outrage Dilemma.
I know it’s hard, but there’s only one real solution.
We must find ways to counter the hysteria, build a strong coalition, get organized, and work to strengthen the democracy. Sowing panic doesn’t help, and in fact, helps the anti-democratic forces.
A goal of Putin’s Active Measures is to get people to lose faith in democratic systems. Because when enough people lose faith (despair and give up) it’s all over.
We need to bring down the panic, avoid increasing the polarization, and get busy.
May 18, 2019