IEET > Rights > Political Empowerment & Participation > Fellows > David Brin
Trump’s Divided America
David Brin   Mar 7, 2017   Contrary Brin  

This reporter tried hard, for a week to live life with no reference to the President (read Farhad Manjoo in The NY Times).  But this mother of storms exceeds any combination of known attention storms. Sci fi offers a simple explanation.  He is an attention vampire. However many hate him… however little he actually accomplishes… an attention vampire will flourish as ever-more humans look at him, feel emotions about him, say his name.

== Crit that added weight to the other side ==
 
Hillary Clinton thought that the things that 55% of Americans and all the smart people found deeply offensive would pile up on scales against Donald Trump. What could not enter her mind or other Democratic leaders was how many American saw Donald Trump's outlandishness not as a bug, but as a feature. The fact that all the smart folks were offended is what turned every outrageous Trumpism into a point added to his side. Indeed, they wound up being the only things necessary. The angrier and more upset we got, the better the reflexive response from what can only be called the Confederacy.
 
No other theory can explain why fundamentalist Christians rallied behind the most unchristian and most opposite-to-Jesus candidate ever to run for high office in the United States.  None of those traits mattered! Not so long as he satisfied the one great, rallying criterion: "Trump hates the same wiseguy nerds and lectury chiders I hate!" A shared enemy is all it sometimes takes. Indeed, it is the only diagnosis and explanation that correlates, across the board.
 
Anyone who thinks it was a decline in white middle class incomes has paid no attention to statistics or studies showing that many Trump supporters are doing just fine and - in fact - have done vastly better across the spans of Democratic administrations than Republican ones.   
 
So let’s get back to those post-mortems of why so many of our fellow Americans feel such rage at all their smart or professional neighbors.
 
== Some of it may be simple ==
 
Aiming to understand what drives white-rural or white working class political fixation must include some understanding of pain. Not so much financial or social, but physical. Pain of the organic-body kind. So writes Vinnie Rotondaro, in The science of white working class pain on Salon. And at one level or another, this should be considered. 
 
The underlying tensions, urban vs rural, liberal vs conservative, are covered in the Associated Press release: Divided America: The Fracturing of a Nation.
 
Sarah Pulliam Bailey, in the WaPost, talks of hownostalgia for white Christian America drove so many Americans to vote for Trump
 
“In Andy Griffith’s rural North Carolina home town, people wish life were more like the Mayberry of TV… Seventy-four percent of white evangelicals believe American culture has mostly changed for the worse since the 1950s — more than any other group of Americans — compared with 56 percent of all whites, according to a 2016 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute. In sharp contrast, 62 percent of African Americans and 57 percent of Hispanic Americans think the culture has changed for the better, the survey said.  With his promise to “Make America Great Again,” Trump appealed directly to this sense of dispossession, and 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for him, according to exit polls.”
 
Recall last time how I referred to George Lakoff’s advice – ignored by the snooty Democratic Establishment – to pay heed to the “strong father” reflex that underlies so many of those who are rejecting the western enlightenment’s emphasis on a nurturing civilization.
 
== Oh, but there are other monsters ==
 
What stunning hypocrisy – one among hundreds – that the Republicans, having blocked for 8 years an infrastructure bill that would have stimulated economic growth, now, suddenly, are abandoning their commitment to fiscal responsibility and embracing this Keynsian notion. 
 
Why? Because they know it would work. They always knew infrastructure spending would work, which is why they did not want it happening during a democratic administration.
 
Is climate denialism a “pillar” of conservatism? It would seem so. And every day you wonder when the crazy will reach limits. Example. The polar vortex is slipping south again as our climate changes. Record cold will strike middle America, even as the Arctic thaws, under unprecedented high temperatures, without sunlight. If you are curious and sapient, read this informative article. If not? If you are a member of the hate-science cult? Welcome to the world you helped create.
 
No, everyone has it backwards.  They are not attacking science (and every other knowledge/fact profession) in order to undermine action on climate change. Rather, they have spread and pushed climate denialism as a cudgel for their main pillar and agenda: attacking science. And every other knowledge/fact profession that might dare to question a feudal oligarchic putsch.
 
Representative Mick Mulvaney, who was recently selected as the Trump administration's nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget, posted “Do we really need government-funded research at all?” Yep, the one thing that doubled all U.S. productivity since World War II. Heck, the thing that enabled us to win World War II. We do not know the balance yet between the two traits most telling for Trump appointees. But those two chief traits are becoming clear. 
 
So… what’s gonna happen? Singer/thinker/SciFi reader Janis Ian suggests that Trump and Putin will join forces against China.  A tasty story… and unlikely, I think.  I doubt very much that the oligarchy wants anything like the super recession that a major tiff with China would cause. Though they do know they need something symbolic for the rallies.
 
I do expect some Potemkin "trade War" in which some tits for tat will be traded in pre-arranged ways that make both countries leaders look tough to the home audience. It will be tightly choreographed.  Those who dream of a Russo-U.S. coalition against China are dreaming.  Indeed, Putin is probably selling off Siberia as we speak.  We, too, will be sold. Alack.

AM I saying there won't be hot war? Are you kidding? Republican presidents always do war, big time. Democrats too, only their doctrine is to go surgical, as Clinton did in Bosnia. Republicans like pushing whole divisions around, and to hell with the cost.  Hence, I would put money on some scheme - some Gulf of Tonkin provocation - that triggers some shooting between the US and Iran. It would serve the needs of both Trump and the Iranian Mullahs, and especially Vladimir Putin. Heck, even the Saudis would foolishly want it. Though our own military wants anything but!
 
Highly apropos of which:  Day of the Oprichnik is a 2006 novel by the Russian writer Vladimir Sorokin. The narrative is set in the near future, when the Russian Empire has been restored, and follows a government henchman, an oprichnik, through a day of grotesque events. Notably, it foresaw a future when Russia’s only income would come from selling off natural resources including – piecemeal to China – most of Siberia. 
 
== AmericanNewsX ==
 
I sometimes cross-post to this brash site. And on occasion they get a bit melodramatic for my taste.  Still, their eagerness to fight back is evident and approval-worthy. For example:
 
Trump Will Be The Oldest President In U.S. History, And Why That Matters A Lot
  
The Evidence Is Growing That The Trump Dossier Isn’t “Fake News”
 
Obama The First President In 36 Years To Leave Office With A Diminished Prison Population.
 
And video shows a right wing provocateur with Breitbart connections as shetries to manipulate a liberal group into accepting bribes for acts of violence and disruption. Maass has previously been caught trying to infiltrate three liberal campaigns; those of Russ Feingold, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton.  Memorize that face. Next time, do a reverse sting.
 
== Oh, lest we forget ==
 
Just in case you imagine I have forgotten the loony left, here’s an example of why that direction remains a very real (albeit much smaller and less immediately lethal than the mad right) danger to our enlightenment civilization. Are STEM Syllabi gendered? The syllabi for college-level STEM courses—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—are "gendered" because they promote the idea that knowledge can be ascertained through reason. This is a masculine concept that hurts women's feelings and makes it difficult for them to succeed…. that certain stylistic choices—command words like "will" and "must"—are inherently masculine and anti-woman, and then sets out to determine whether these words show up in STEM syllabi.”
 
Mind you, these indirect quotations of "Are STEM Syllabi Gendered? A Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis" are taken from an article in REASON, a libertarian journal, sure to take a mocking response.  Still, this is exactly the sort of thing that is used by Hannity & company a bludgeons to imply that “both sides are just as subjectively biased” (i.e. crazy). 

No, they are not equivalent. The FAR left CONTAINS some dogmatic crazies. Your ENTIRE American right CONSISTS of such.

There is a difference between FAR and ENTIRE.  As there is between CONTAINS and CONSISTS.
David Brin Ph.D. is a scientist and best-selling author whose future-oriented novels include Earth, The Postman, and Hugo Award winners Startide Rising and The Uplift War. David's newest novel - Existence - is now available, published by Tor Books."



COMMENTS No comments

YOUR COMMENT Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: Summary of Victor Frankl on “Tragic Optimism”

Previous entry: How To Cope With This Stressful Presidency