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    Trumpism Won't Go Anywhere

    Note: If this essay passes 1000 views, I'm going to post it as a podcast.

    In 1974, in the aftermath of Richard Nixon's presidency crumbling from scandal, Gerald Ford became president. He came to office proclaiming that "our long national nightmare is over," promising renewal from the scandal of a foul-mouthed president bringing the country to an era of tension, division and shame: 



    America has similarly elected a president who, like Ford, promised that we should "talk to one another again" and that we couldn't continue with our current level of division. In the YouTube comments for Ford's speech, users mentioned Biden's election repeatedly. 

    Ford was a Republican and Biden is a Democrat. However, they succeeded two presidents so similar that they even had the same team. Roger Stone, who has a tattoo of Richard Nixon's face on his back, was instrumental to Trump's campaign. Stone even compared the two positively in a book about Trump's 2016 victory.

    I don't see Trumpism going anywhere. Far from being the delusions of a crazy person, Trump's refusal to accept Biden's victory is thought out - it gives fuel to people who won't want to accept what comes next, with that anger and outrage enough to put them over within four years. People who don't want things to change often accuse others of betrayal and Trump has a family of associates who have weight with supporters.

    That is essentially what happened in the 1970s. After being pardoned by Ford, Nixon reclined from public view. However, six years later, as Ford and then the Democrat Jimmy Carter faced their own difficulties, Ronald Reagan was able to rise in to a president viewed as an examplar by Republicans. While he touted "morning in America" and promised to take America out of the turmoil of the preceding period, he was actually very much a part of that period. 

    He was governor of California from 1967 to 1975 and during that period, endulged Nixon's worst impulses. There's audio tape of him referring to African delegates at the United Nations as "monkeys" during that period:

    “Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” Reagan said. “Yeah,” Nixon interjected. Reagan forged ahead with his complaint: “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they're still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Nixon gave a huge laugh.

    Sound familiar?

    Update: Interview with Rick Wilson from the Lincoln Project accounts well for Trumpism: 




    A reminder, though, that Trumpism differs a lot in that it sells populism. He does it/did it for narcissistic ends like a demagogue, others may like it for other reasons.

     For example, just the other day- news that his instinct is to give individual Americans more money than the Congressional GOP wants to do:

    BREAKING: White House aides intervened Thursday to prevent President Trump from demanding Congress approve checks of $2K/person, sources say

    Trump told allies he wants "at least" $1,200 & as much as $2K

    Aides told Trump his demands could blow up talkshttps://t.co/EjcMXoS7in

    — Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) December 18, 2020

    It's the "chicken in every pot" thing and that is quite different than the Gerald Ford thing which is "elites know better than you do what you need." I.E., Ford decided that America would be healthier if they stopped talking about Nixon and Watergate and that was that, no vote on it, he knows what's better for us.

    To be fair, there was lots of discussion - Nixon and Vietnam had been tearing America apart for some time. Watergate was icing. Frankly I think it was the bullet we needed. And Ford took his as well. I think we still don't understand this Communism thing, which makes Vietnam hard to debate. Watergate was much less defensible, and it's not like Nixon left with honor, or that his appearance on David Frost made things better for him. But meanwhile we moved on. Which left us much more able to confront the energy crisis, Mideast changes, the last days of Brezhnev... Another 2+ years of self-reflection?

    There are no squads of Republicans marching into the Oval Office demanding Trump's resignation yesterday. That is the biggest difference.

    In a parallel fashion, Nixon happened before Gingrich turned the party into a message machine where group membership was handled before other differences were discussed. One can get away with the boldest of obstructions when carefully timed with expressions of dismay. That Herd Immunity kicks in. Don't let them pick you off.

    The "greatest nightmare" line pisses me off in a way I was not smart enough to notice before. What exactly am I being spared? The sight of criminals going to jail? People being put upon because they backed a con game? People returning from wars? A date with a Porn Star while vacationing from the family? The extremity of poverty?

    I get the general idea of catching a break. I did not get a ticket when my car was asking for it. Someone else is sued for poisoning a field. The contract for my job releases me from all kinds of liability. But that is not an idea. Vacations from responsibility can be fun but are not a replacement for them. 

    This ending is more like an apartment rented out to college students who throw a huge party to trash the place before leaving town. If you keep pissing upon new people all the time, they will never be able to collect themselves as a class.

    Nixon and Trump were not similar. Nixon for his Machiavellian plays, including disrupting the Peace Talks, was a deep thinker, and rather uncomfortable with  crowds.

    Reagan was sometimes a race baiter as per dig whistles in the South via that political operative Lee Atwater, but his message to America was the antithesis of Trump's, and whatever your politics, facing down and dismantling the Soviet Union in Europe was one of the greatest achievents of the last 50 years - as might be noted by great prosperity, spread of Democracy, and decrease in major wars ever since the Wall fell.

    Stone is a crook who helped Bush steal the election (the "Brooks Brothers Revolution") and helped use/assist Wikileaks to steal the election. I'm not sure of his fuckery back in Nixon's days, but Nixon didn't create these political beasts, just like Trump didn't make Manafort start overthrowing elections around the world or turn Flynn into a scheming weasel - they exist in a side world all along.

    I agree.

    You got me thinking about personalities---Nixon had a little bit of a victimhood thing but that was all about class and the elites of the time and feeling he had to fight hard, and it was really quite different than Trump, more of an inferiority complex (while Trumps' problem is definitely totally undeserved superiority complex). Nixon could also definitely be cold about demographic groups, thinking of them as lesser human beings, but that's the Machiavellian thing you mention, not like Trump either, who doesn't have the smarts for that, he relies on others to manipulate for him. 

    Trump really is most strongly defined by his narcissistic disorder to an insane degree, zero empathy. He's learned what gets applause and fans via Pavlovian practice, and some intuition, not from intelligence about and analysis of emotions of others. Nixon was not a narcissist and could show empathy for those he chose to care about. 

    now here is a trivia history point that is one that I think has very much a moment of equivalence between Nixon and Trump; this was strikingly like Kanye's adoration of Trump:

    Fifty years ago today:
    Nixon: "You dress kind of strange, don’t you?”
    Elvis: "You have your show and I have mine." pic.twitter.com/KXvJY0BLcF

    — Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) December 21, 2020

    It doesn't have a lot of bigger meaning though, it's simply about major American wack celebs and them sort of betraying the bigger culture of their fans.

    On the other hand, the older Elvis really was MAGA before MAGA, down to who most of his fans were in his older incarnation. Partly because of his Memphis underclass background, but for other reasons, too.

    MAGA? Nixon created the EPA, at the time was trying to pull out of Vietnam (100,000+ a year), & desegregate schools, along with visiting Mao to lower the Communist expansionism (it took Mao's visit to Singapore's Chinese leader to really get the profit angle down). Meanwhile Elvis was whack on drugs, spending lots of time on his "golden throne", and perfect fodder for all the greedy Colonel entourage friends he had. Plus a huge Vegas hit, in an amazing about face to his British invasion fade out. (He head The Wrecking Crew behind him, who created the sound behind The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Glen Campbell (originally a studio musician who broke out, similar to Leon Russell), on up to Simon & Garfunkel.)


    But good to remember Elvis in the 50s... esp. before co-op Ted in the Army.



    Bernie's back with "both sides do it" - not enough to promise liberal things - have to over promise and be demagogic, even though there's not enough votes to pass anything.


    That UN vote was choosing China over Taiwan. Taiwan just took new steps to assure its independence. 



    a reminder that this is international:

    Anglo-American pluto-populists "have to convince a large proportion of the population to vote against its economic interests by focusing on culture and identity," writes @martinwolf_ . This formula is successful, and will continue to be https://t.co/L0KId1mvL0

    — Anne Applebaum (@anneapplebaum) December 23, 2020

    also "yellow jackets" in France, ultra conservatives in former East Germany, etc..


    talking like a anti-GOP activist himself, just like in 2016:

    (found retweeted by Maggie Haberman today)

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