Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Where does Trump fit into the political system?

Even though many of the Founding Fathers were opposed to the idea of political parties due to their adversarial nature, the United States has, from its second president onward, been a nation of political parties. Typically, the president has been elected as a member of one of two major political parties, although at times additional parties have fielded candidates. From their beginning the two major parties, no matter what they called themselves, have been polarized concerning the idea of states rights. In the early days, the Federalist party wanted a strong central government. The Democratic-Republicans wanted most issues left up to the individual states. This has carried through to today, with the Democratic Party's position that the government should lead the way in helping the poor and sick while the Republican Party believes that states should determine their own policies in social matters.

Conservatives, who generally side with the Republicans, believe that the federal government should mainly be  involved with setting and implementing defense policy. Pretty much everything else should be left up to the states. Most do support a social safety net and Social Security, but they believe this safety net should be limited. Many believe that private corporations should somehow be involved in implementing Social Security as well. Conservatives believe that individuals should be rewarded according to their productivity. They believe wealth is accumulated through hard work and intelligent money-handling skills. They are concerned that too many Federal programs that aid the poor only serve to keep the poor in poverty and offer little incentive for the downtrodden to better themselves. Some view the poor as lazy, willing to live at the subsistence level on government handouts rather than to better themselves. Republicans tend to believe in equality of opportunity rather than equality of condition.

Progressives (or liberals) are usually Democrats. They believe that the Federal Government should set policy in all but local matters, and that these policies should be implemented at the federal level. Democrats believe that wealth stems not only from hard work and good money-managing skills, but just as importantly, from random situational dynamics - something most people have no control over. A person can work very hard for years, trying to save as much as possible, but random situations may prevent that person from becoming wealthy. On the other hand, someone can inherit money or win a lottery, providing enough seed capital to insure a better chance at turning their windfall into wealth. Others just simply happen to be at the right place at the right time, talking to the right people. So, since random situations do not provide everyone with equal opportunities, it is up to the government to make sure that those who have been hampered by the luck of life at least have the means to support themselves. They look at the poor not as lazy or unmotivated, but as productive citizens who need a hand up. They also believe that there are certain things that are so important to national well-being and society as a whole that the Federal Government should be in the business of supplying it. National defense is one of these things, something the Republicans agree with. But Democrats also believe that education and health should be included. Republicans think these should be state issues.

But where does Donald Trump fit into this political situation? He ran as a Republican, but earlier in his business career he spoke and acted more like a Democrat. Trump, basically, is an opportunist. He is very wealthy, but he had a large infusion of seed money from his father to get him started in business. Many of his businesses failed. He filed for bankruptcy multiple times. Regardless of how much money he has amassed over the past 50 years, some analysts believe he could have had much more had he simply invested his initial contribution from his father in a more shrewd manner instead of using it to start businesses that eventually failed.

Trump is an egomaniac and narcissist who has learned how to make people like him. He says what they want to hear. He surrounds himself with people who will fawn over him. He is the ultimate elitist. His world is decorated in gold, literally. He becomes angry and incoherent when things do not go his way. He usually gets what he wants, because he has the money to buy it. He became president by identifying the people he could persuade, due to their situation. And like all salesmen, he told them exactly what they needed to hear and made them believe him. In that sense he is charismatic - he can charm an audience. But unlike the mega church preachers, he is not very eloquent in his delivery. In a way, that helps the poorly educated identify with him even more. He says what they need to hear in a manner that they are used to. In other words, to some, he seems much more sincere, due to his limited speaking skills, than he actually is.

And now that he is in office, and is officially the leader of the Free World, even despite not having won the popular election, he is facing self-inflicted crises galore. His base is sticking with him for now because they still hold out hope he can help. But as time goes by and he is unable to deliver on his promises, because he doesn't know how to do the job, his base will fracture. Mainstream Republicans will then determine that Trump is more of a hindrance than a help, and they will start deserting him. It's already starting to happen. Since his party controls both houses of Congress he is probably safe through his first term, but that depends on the results of the several investigations that are currently going on. At the very least, Republicans in the House will start distancing themselves from Trump before the midterm elections for the sake of their own political survival. And if enough of them develop the backbone before 2018, Trump could very well be impeached.