October relief…sort of, Trump’s still here

The intent of this blog has not been to enter political controversy. The weirdness of the 2016 not-so-presidential campaign has shaken my resolve, but I don’t intend to write another on this topic. Previous ones are “Democrats vs. theocrats” (Jan. 30, 2016); “Batshit crazy, the stupid party” (Mar. 15, 2016); and “America’s celebration of ignorance” (Aug. 26, 2016). The following post is a few final thoughts not yet expressed.

Power in the hands of a paranoid, thin-skinned, impetuous, petty, fact-averse, mean-spirited person is a truly frightening prospect. (I believe each of those adjectives to be true and provable, but nevertheless feel a bit unclean using such a string of them.) Donald Trump has degraded presidential candidacy to the déclassé of a Jerry Springer Show and a banana republic mentality. He has brought a nadir of tawdriness and small-mindedness. He has disguised haughty ignorance as “telling it like it is” to the delight of a base more angry than informed and easily convinced by strong-man solutions reminiscent of Mussolini. He spouts lies and unconfirmed rumors…“people are telling me,” “a lot of people are saying”…characteristic of conspiracy obsession wherein facts are irrelevant. For him, just to make a claim is to establish its accuracy and, it turns out, for his followers as well.

Trump’s supposedly masterful business management is, as is his approach to life, one of lawsuits rather than relationships and ethical practice. His stated political beliefs have no consistency except as they serve self-promotion. His self-proclaimed brilliance makes preparation, study, and experience unnecessary (“…more than the generals”). Like a schoolyard bully, he ascribes each of his grave flaws—paranoia-like—to his opponent. His lying is not so much an occasional defect, but a trademark conversational tactic. He has exploited the severe deterioration of the Republican Party—once a reputable, essential thought leader and custodian of political conservatism—made possible by the wretched participation of spineless Republican officials and candidates. His half-baked, even flippant, pronouncements come not from thoughtful statesmanship, but from ill-informed bloviation, triggered often by perceived personal slights. He would disgrace the presidency just as he has his candidacy.

He has added to the deterioration of the Republican Party, driving it far beyond being—as Republican Governor Bobby Jindal called it—“the stupid party.” Its longtime role of representing an informed, respectable protector of conservative principles has fallen disastrously. Republicans were neither competent enough nor wise enough to fulfill their important role responsibly, abetted by the anti-intellectual, anti-science, uncompromising traits of the Moral Majority, then Tea Party, and FoxNews. The GOP has not just been taken advantage of and embarrassed by Donald Trump, it made a Donald Trump inevitable.

American political discourse has sunk terribly in the past couple or three decades. But Trump represents its further decline. His ceaseless prevarications and small-mindedness are distressing, but some are more dangerous than others, specifically those that endanger the political system itself. He carelessly misinforms his base that they should seek “Second Amendment solutions,” that the election is rigged, and that they should be informal poll-police. (As testimony that he’s not completely devoid of taste, he has not suggested they wear brown shirts.) Should he lose, it means ipso facto that his winning will have been stolen.

The pretended rigging, however, is exceeded by his most terrifying move: calling into question the peaceful transfer of power essential to a republic. To my knowledge, no American president has ever treated the election process that injudiciously, that recklessly. Our system is built on trust that each part of Constitutional government carries out its role despite comings and goings of individuals and parties. (I’ll refrain from dwelling on the Senate’s constitutionally questionable decision not to hold hearings on President Obama’s SCOTUS nomination, along with recent rumbling about avoiding hearings through a complete Clinton term. Particularly galling was Sen. McConnell’s ridiculous claim that “the people should have a choice.”)

If Donald Trump is (1) so unintelligent as to be unaware of the gravity of even hinting at such a grave declaration, or (2) so evil as to intentionally jeopardize the country’s ability to endure, the presidency should be denied to him even by persons who agree with his scattered political views. In fact, under either of those conditions, if Trump’s followers do not rise up against his candidacy, their intelligence, their Americanism, or both are suspect.

Hillary Clinton, of course, has shortcomings herself, ones that in a normal campaign might have doomed her candidacy well before the convention. (I refer to the real failings, not the trumped up ones that Republicans have dogged her with but failed to prove for much of her public life.) But her blemishes and those of previous Republican candidates as well are not the sort that the Republican Party brings us in 2016: Clinton’s mistakes are numerous, some are embarrassing, some problematic. But, unlike Trump’s, they do not endanger the republic.

About John Bruce Carver

I am a U. S. citizen living in Atlanta, Georgia, having grown up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and graduating from Chattanooga High School. I served in the Electronic Security Command of the U. S. Air Force before receiving a B.S. degree in business/economics and an M.Ed. in educational psychology, both at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I then completed a Ph.D. in clinical (and research) psychology at Emory University. I have two daughters and three granddaughters. An ardent international traveller, I have been in over 70 countries for business and pleasure. My reading, other than novels, tends to be in history, philosophy, government, and light science. I identify philosophically as a secular humanist, in complete awe of the universe including my fellows and myself. I am married to my best friend, Miriam, formerly of the United Kingdom and Canada.
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4 Responses to October relief…sort of, Trump’s still here

  1. Daniel D. Hull says:

    Dr. Carver opines: “Clinton’s mistakes are numerous, some are embarrassing, some problematic. But, unlike Trump’s, they do not endanger the republic.” I say: Oh really now?? You may wish you had not said that if she is convicted of any one of several crimes for which the FBI is investigating her.

    Ms. Clinton says: “I never sent or received any information marked “classified”. FBI Director Comey says: “Yes you did”. I say: “No she didn’t.”

    She is telling the truth, sort of, but only because the teflonic Ms. Clinton can confidently count on the ignorance of the average voter and the overwhelming support of the three major television networks by her ever so clever use of the word “marked”. Anyone who has had a top secret security clearance – probably a very small percentage of the population – knows that classified information is not “marked” classified. Rather, the three classifications of sensitive U.S. information are confidential, secret, and top-secret, in ascending order of sensitivity. Even more important than keeping sensitive information secret is keeping secret the methods used to obtain it. More than most anybody, Dr. Carver would know this, having served in the USAF in an extremely sensitive position. So Ms. Clinton can obfuscate her answers to the FBI’s questions about how she handled classified information on her private e-mail server without outright lying. Ignorant voters do not have a clue that they are being hoodwinked by this deceitful, dishonest woman, and her cheerleaders at NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and MSNBC are not about to tell them for fear of damaging her chances of winning the election.

    Donna Brazille and many other top Democrats say we should not pay any attention to the WikiLeaks disclosures of Ms. Clinton’s criminal mishandling of the nation’s top secrets because the e-mails were “stolen”. What utter nonsense. That makes about as much sense as saying we should not pay any attention to the news on a particular television set because it turns out that television set was stolen.

    Dr. Carver says that Donald Trump is a “paranoid, thin-skinned, impetuous, petty, fact-averse, mean-spirited person”. Seems an accurate description to me, and the same applies to Ms. Clinton. The difference is that being paranoid, thin-skinned, impetuous, petty, fact-averse and mean-spirited is not a crime, but intentionally mishandling the nation’s top-secret information and destroying evidence in a federal investigation that’s under a subpoena to protect are both crimes that should disqualify her from running, much less being elected president of the United States.

    Has the teflon finally worn off the Clintons, or will they once again prevail? One more week and we will find out. One thing is for sure. Whichever side wins will have to spend the next four or eight years being ridiculed by the other side, the end result being that the American people will suffer from this “House Divided” that threatens the United States with self-destruction.

    Finally, Jesus Christ is quoted in Mark 3:24 (KJV) as saying “If a kingdom (nation) be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand”. Let’s hope the mainstream media (and bloggers) will take this warning to heart and begin to pull for the good old USA to survive and thrive instead of always looking for ways to divide its people into warring factions.

    • I don’t pretend that HRC has been free of egregious errors, but I’m unwilling to include those instances in which conservatives freely “convict” her politically even when she’s not been found guilty—particularly when those failed attempts have been by Republicans willing to spend fortunes of public money in their pursuit. (Perhaps Republicans consider her “teflonic-ness” to prove her caginess. There’s another option: she wasn’t guilty.) The anti-Hillary drumbeat’s gone on relentlessly for years, and even shows up in your charge that she’s guilty of “intentionally mishandling the nation’s top-secret information and destroying evidence” even when the FBI doesn’t agree with you. (Sorry, but I pay little attention to partisan sources that decide a crime has or has not been committed when the legal process disagrees—kind of like an old fashioned lynch mob, or a partisan source denying the agreement of 90+% of climate scientists.)

      In another bizarre twist, Republicans repeatedly include these failed investigations in HRC’s list of sins even though the number and content thereof were controlled by her political opponents themselves! You’ve gone even further to give me a friendly caution (thank you): “. . . if she is convicted of any one of several crimes for which the FBI is investigating her.” “Several”? I know of no “several.” (Those from the Weiner-Abedin laptop, as far as I know, are not part of a separate probe, but emails missed in pursuing the former inquiry.) I won’t even bring up Trump’s actual legal issues. And as a further concession, I’ll not comment on all the embarrassing hacked Democratic party emails, while we’ve seen no hacks at all of Trump’s or Republican party documents, except to note what an amazing coincidence that is!

      As an aside, a quick comment on security classification markings. Certainly I agree with your basic statement, but both of us are decades away from security involvement. I recently watched a TV interview regarding use of a double parenthesized letter C [like this, I assume: ((CC))] used in emails. To me that means I cannot authoritatively comment on the possible absence of large markings of Confidential, Secret, or Top Secret at top (and often bottom) of each page inasmuch as something I was unaware of changed in these years. In other words, I’ve removed myself from those who are up to date on such things; so while recognizing your previous status, I’d invite you to do so as well. Bottom line, though, is that whatever reason that (a) made classification not as obvious or (b) caused no one to confront the Secretary, the problem should be corrected in the State Department (and possibly elsewhere).

      I, too, am disturbed, even angry, about HRC’s “numerous . . . embarrassing . . . problematic mistakes.” I do not condone them, wonder what on earth she was thinking, and know they weaken the distinction between her and DJT. You wish for American cohesion, for less division among us. I do, too. But we must play by the rules to have that. The shameful treatment of the SCOTUS nomination, of extensive Republican jerrymandering, of spending more legislative time on partisan warfare than governing, of FoxNews disinformation (I wonder if in your estimation FN bears any responsibility), all play important roles in our harmfully “divided house.” I also want the Republican party to get back to its thoughtful opposition to Democratic economic and other policies, and leave behind the “stupid party” behaviors that make a laughing stock of the House particularly, but increasingly the Senate. (One might say I’d love to be a Republican again, but not what it’s become. Must we live with the droppings of Newt forever?)

      From her as president, I’d expect extensive understanding of foreign policy, careful analysis of issues, few if any paranoid distractions, coherence in public policy, and little or no inaccuracies in communication. From him as president, I’d expect continuation of his inability to recognize limits on what he doesn’t know, extremely loose use of language (e.g., off-the-wall statements, exaggeration of facts to get a reaction, insensitivity to international dynamics), personalization of issues, wild-card behavior even his closest aids cannot control, and lack of coherence in policy. In other words, I see her flaws and his, but want our country, our stock market, our international role to be sources of pride and integrity; he is far less predictable on these and other crucial matters than she.

  2. Since this essay was posted, news broke by FBI Director James Comey that the FBI had found emails “in an unrelated case” that “appear to be pertinent to [the Hillary Clinton email] investigation.” Since he’d previously testified that “our investigation [of Clinton’s emails] was completed,” this discovery renders his testimony no longer true. As of now, however, not only have there been no further classified Clinton emails discovered, but Mr. Comey isn’t sure that emails in the new batch are even pertinent. (Further inspection might find either or both of those conditions true.) If pertinent and true, the likely result is that the only change to what voters already know about is a matter of quantity, not kind, knowledge of which has already been incorporated into voters’ choices. Voters, particularly Trump voters, will tend to jump to the conclusion that this is relevant new information when it is not. Donald Trump, not bound by facts as usual, has already decided this is a scandal bigger than Watergate.

  3. Ron Nickle says:

    Well done John! A fair, well written piece.

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