The League vs Trump – Super Doomsday Open Thread and Twitter List

anti-trumpAs I was thinking about Super Doomsday (aka “The SEC Primaries” or simply “Super Tuesday”), it occurred to me that Donald Trump and Trumpismo are opposites of just about everything the League of Ordinary Gentlepeople (fka “League of Ordinary Gentlemen”) and its child Ordinary Times have ever done or stood for.

If we need a clearer definition of our mission – as I think we do – we could do worse for a starting point than “Negation of Trump,” but that thought also implies that it’s significantly our fault that Trumpism is on the verge of taking over the universe (just as Trump has lately seemed on the verge of taking over this site).

If it’s true or may be true that we’re the closest thing there is to the pure negation or perhaps the inversion of Trumpismo, including by counting as little as his movement looms large, then we are especially at fault. If we are at fault, in this special way, then we clearly need to do a much better job, lest this project, this so-fine un-Trump thing, dwindle away to nothing as deep darkness settles over the land real and virtual.

For those of you who lack a dialectical imagination – possibly a defect in your education – the idea may seem absurd. How could Trump be our fault!? We’re just us. A lot of us are Democrats and independents of different types. The Republicans among us are appalled, and all of us, even the ones who have openly flirted with pro-Trump crimethink, are just leading our lives – so back off! It’s hard out here for a Gentleperson!

I won’t try to persuade you here and now of our guilt. I’ll just ask you to entertain the possibility as open-mindedly as you are able, and maybe we can discuss it in more detail as time and energy permit. If you agree that what makes us congenitally anti-Trump is our preference for inclusive, reasonable, charitable discussion – in short our commitment to thought and to trying to address ideas, not enemies – then why not deal with this notion within that tradition? If you think I’m wrong about “what we are” – then what do you think the truth is?

I’ll add for now that in my opinion there’s certainly plenty of blame to go around: We’re hardly the only ones who blew it.

As for further practical implications, I think what will be required of us will be difficult, and not purely and simply un-Trump, if purely and simply un-Trump means simply and purely nice and kind and placid and pleasant. Un-Trump would be as inclusively complex as Trumpism is exclusionarily visceral and immediate, and this complexity of the un-Trump would also mean that any mere abstract negation of Trumpism, the #AgainstTrump and #NeverTrump of alarmed Republicans, cannot be a complete description of a viable and sustainable LOOG concept by any means.1 Any mere negation of Trump would be symbiotic with Trump and sustain Trumpismo. Yet even the movement beyond the maximal Trump moment – may it already be over in principle! – will necessarily retain certain higher essences of Trumpism.

I imagine that the thought and work required of us over the next months and years will be both demanding and enjoyable – not to mention huge and beautiful, the best ever, and unbelievable. I think it will be kind of cool and involving, too, kind of like almost everyone thinks an open convention would be cool and involving, except that how we here settle matters for ourselves is obviously more important than whom- or whatever the Republican Party happens to nominate this time around. I also think we can have a much better outcome than they presently seem likely to achieve.

I hear there are things going on with the other big party, too, today.

Please consider this a Super Doomsday Open Thread. Live Tweet or Die list embedded below:


Notes:

  1. In case you were wondering, we’re working on it! []

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TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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