Friday, January 20, 2017

The Most Depressing Thing Today, 1/20/17; Ideology

Today, January 20, 2017, was the day that Donald J. Trump was inaugurated.  However, his inauguration, which was inevitable and lawful, was not the thing that depressed me most.  After all, he won the election game although, as any objective person would admit, he in fact came in second to another person in the popular vote.  All you can say is that he legally won the election game under the insane rules under which it is governed.  To deny him the presidency is to descend into anarchy and chaos.  Following rules, even crazy rules, is probably a better alternative.

It wasn't his speech that was especially depressing either.  I had no expectations of graciousness from Trump nor did I expect him to reach out to others, in particular to that majority of Americans who opposed him.

The most depressing thing was the violence perpetrated by a small group of persons protesting Trump's inauguration in the nation's capital.  Although few in number, the coverage of their actions was immense - all eyes were on Washington DC.  Since those who oppose Trump need to make their views known, it is frightening to think that such demonstrations may serve, instead, to help President Trump.

Even though the violence was limited, at least as of 4:30pm EST, to the burning of a Fox News vehicle, and some violence in the streets of Washington DC, this is precisely the kind of thing that will help Trump and hurt those who oppose his intentions to reverse the Affordable Care Act, and help Trump promote his racial, ethnic, homophobic, transphobic, misogynist and religious biases.  This kind of hijacking of a peaceful protest will serve to make people think twice about protesting; the concern that a protest will turn violent is a legitimate concern.  If you care about whether the protest will actually turn into an asset for President Trump to exploit, why protest?

If you want to help Trump, do what those particular protesters did: riot in the streets and burn vehicles.  I do not care how the protesters feel in their hearts about Trump.  I do not like Trump but I view these protesters as agents of Trump.  What I care about are the results of their actions.  Their actions will only give comfort to supporters of Trump and strengthen their and Trump's resolve to follow though on their biases.

Consider that Trump would have been roundly defeated if only voter turnout was high; Clinton would have won if those who favored her did not stay home out of laziness, complacency, lack of motivation or because Clinton was "not progressive enough."  Any protester who did not vote for Clinton can now thank themselves for the eventual results.  They should be hiding in shame instead of rioting in the street if that is what they were doing.

What kind of thinking leads to this sort of behavior?  How does anyone come to the conclusion that rioting and behaving like anarchists will change the hearts and minds of those on the fence about Donald J. Trump?  Unfortunately the answer is that the rioters are the mirror image of those Trump supporters who threatened peaceful protesters at Trump rallies; or those who chanted "lock her up"; or those who chanted "build the wall."  Those pro-Trump supporters did not care whether their beliefs were reasoned, true or helpful. They just believed.

In the next few days there will be numerous demonstrations around the country protesting Trump's expected policies; if too many of the demonstrations are hijacked by a violent few, they will only serve to help Trump move his agenda forward just as the misguided "anti-war" movement helped George W. Bush gain support for the disastrous Iraq War in 2002 and 2003.

Most people have short memories.  To quickly summarize, demonstrators had often framed the opposition to the Iraq War as being opposed to all wars - it was the "anti-war" movement, not, more specifically, the "anti-Iraq War" movement; also, some protesters coupled it with anti-capitalism protests which was not helpful; and occasionally some participants perpetrated violence.  Obviously, to an American public that has not forgotten World War II, and for those who understood that the U.S. was attacked by Al Qaeda on 9-11, overall pacifism seemed a ridiculous concept. Also, to those who have reaped the benefits of the world's strongest economy, lumping anti-capitalism with an "anti-war" movement was not sensible.

The better route for that movement to take was to emphasize that Iraq was NOT the source of the 9-11 attack and that bin Laden, hiding on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, WAS the source.    The other excuse, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, was the subject of ongoing UN inspections that were halted by the U.S. before they were completed so that we could invade - before the inspectors could confirm that there were NO weapons of mass destruction.  By the time the Iraq War began, and for years after, most Americans had the impression that Iraq was involved in 9-11 and that weapons of mass destruction were found.  The "anti-war" movement failed to communicate these key facts primarily because the "anti-war" movement was more about ideology than preventing the Iraq War.  They had other axes to grind - their ideologies.

This is my warning; do not make those who are ready to oppose President Trump's policies reluctant to side with a movement marred by anarchists and rioters and ideologues.  Let the demonstrations be inspiring, peaceful and welcoming to those looking on objectively.  Give onlookers the information they need to have, such as the simple fact that the popular Affordable Care Act is actually the same as the unpopular Obamacare.  Duh!  Let them understand that manufacturing jobs are mostly disappearing due to automation; let them understand that tax cuts for the wealthy mean that everyone else will have a greater tax burden; let them understand that equality under the law applies to women, minorities, the disabled, GLBT persons, non-believers and Muslims as well.  Give them the obvious yet disputed facts!

However, I am afraid that anarchists and ideologues do not  really care whether they are actually assisting Trump; ideologues are ideologues precisely because they care more about their belief system than whether it is grounded in reality and whether the results of their ideology actually assist with humanity's well being.  To be an ideologue is to place your ideology beyond question and to accept the results no matter how bad they are.  Ideologues just believe.  Those who burned the FoxNews car did Trump a huge favor but are now basking in their own perceived "purity."

They are the mirror image of Trump supporters.  These violent and radical few cannot be allowed to hijack the movement to stop Trump from doing what he has promised to do.

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