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Whitlock on Trump & The US Election

Posted on 14 November, 2016 at 14:15

Is democracy broken?

How at-risk are we for a deadly Trump tantrum?

Is Trump worse than you?

How correct are you, exactly?

Do you actually want freedom?

 

 Answers to these five questions, in 500 words or less, from someone who hasn’t and doesn’t support Trump:

 

 


Is democracy broken?

There are supposed to be things in place to prevent a Trump getting into office, right? This is basically what the winner-take-all system was created to do: make sure the fringe is always underrepresented. That’s what we keep being told. And the US clearly has a winner-take-all, FPTP system, as almost all states elect their electoral college members in a winner-take-all fashion. And this is indeed the mechanism that allows the less popular candidate to be president, which is what happened with Trump. So what’s going on? The thing that people don’t seem to be getting is that Trump is not the fringe. He is the mainstream.

 

So to the streets! Riots have broken out in cities across (and outside) the US, fueled by threats of death and destruction on social media and the encouragement of celebrities. “Not My President” say signs of the protesters. But they’re wrong. He is your president.

 

You don’t get to be a fair-weather democrat. If you like democracy, then Trump is your president, and you support him. That’s how democracy works. A riot about the result of this election is a riot against democracy. If you are prepared to accept that you would prefer to abolish democracy, then just come out and say it. You cannot protest this election, and support democracy. That is a logical impossibility.

 

I’m not going to tell you that democracy is the best choice, but if you do accept it, then you cannot protest this election due to the fact that your opponent won. Democracy is simply the statement that the most popular idea is the one we will go with. That is all. It’s simple. If you don’t like it, be honest with yourself and come out against democracy.

 

Those who have a problem with what happened should have been protesting democracy and/or the electoral process years before Trump ran. To protest now is only a slap in the face of democracy, and that’s ok. But let’s be honest about it.

 

All’s not lost yet for those passionate antitrumpists. The electoral college and/or congress could step in to block this election. That would be legal, as the US does not have its citizens directly elect the President, but do you really want that? Are you prepared to seize power from the people to give it to the political elite just to avoid four years of Trump? Is there any chance at all that you may be overestimating the apocalypse of this election?

 


How at-risk are we for a deadly Trump tantrum?

There is great and truly fascinating debate about just how powerful the president is. By direct law, he is not all that powerful, but by tradition and rhetoric, he has significant influence. Basically, the president is supposed to be the person that your representatives ask to get things done, specifically, the things that they decide. But the President always has his own agenda and finds sneaky ways to make his own changes. For example, the president can issue an executive order, which is binding legally, but only when he has the power to act in that area referred to him from congress. But no one needs to authorize the president to have a meeting with another leader or give a moving speech. But what kind of changes could President Trump make if he decided to get crazy?

 

For acting unilaterally, it appears that the president really has the authority to stop change, not to force it. It is a great deal easier to veto legislation than it is to write and pass it. Of course, even the president’s coveted veto can be overturned by congress.

 

So how could Trump royally eff the country? As Commander in Chief, Trump could make a military move. If he wanted to take action for more than 60 days or officially declare war, he would need congress to do it. But technically having the power in writing and actually getting it done are different. Say for example, that Trump issued an order to move the entire army into France because he wanted to occupy the Eiffel Tower. So he tells his joint chiefs this decision. What would they do? Probably have the vice president and the cabinet declare him unfit to the house and senate. Or maybe congress would step in on their own. Either way, there is always someone watching with the power to stop it.

 

So let’s say Trump only has time to make one crazy move, so he launches a nuclear attack. Here are all the things that have to happen in the 4 minutes between presidential order, and actually launching the bomb. 1) The Secretary of Defence has to sign off on it, or resign, leaving the new SoD to do it. 2) The Joint Chiefs of Staff have to relay the orders to the team launching the bomb. 3) The bomb launchers have to actually hit the button. All of those people have to be on board, or it doesn’t happen. Again, there are plenty of checks on power.

 

I realize that those who think Trump will actually make a crazy, world-ending decision are the minority, but hopefully knowing just how difficult it is for a president to do something can put everyone slightly more at ease.

 


Is Trump worse than you?

This is simply a math problem, but not an easy one. How do we measure how good someone is? As a starting exercise, let’s look at Bill Gates, surely high on anyone’s “good list”. He has given around 28 billion dollars to charity so far, and has promised to give the rest of his money when he dies. This is a man that clearly cares more about making the world better than about stockpiling money and buying nice things.

 

What if we found out that Bill was murdering one helpless random child every year for the past 20 years, and intends on continuing for the next 20 years? Every year, he would kidnap a child, and murder them. And now we were faced with the choice of either putting him in prison or letting him continue to walk free. If he said that he would stop doing billions of dollars of charity if he were in jail, then the math would say to let him remain free. The math says that it is better to have all the good that Bill gives, even when it means that we have to have those pesky annual murders too.

 

We do this math all the time. We could eliminate tens of thousands of deaths every year just by banning cars or drastically lowering speed limits. But we have decided that the good of efficient and fast transportation outweighs the bad of a ton of deaths. But here is a math problem that people are having trouble with: If Trump is a less charitable than average billionaire, does that make him bad? Your gut might say he is bad, if it is indeed true that he is less charitable than most other billionaires. But is doing 10 units of good really a bad thing if you actually could have done 15 units of good? Of course not. Doing less good than you can is still good, and it must be measured against other people’s amount of good.

 

Trump has given more to charity in the last 5 years than everyone reading this combined will give to charity over the course of their lives (probably). Just because he could have given more (and he could have), doesn’t mean the giving that he has done is somehow bad. So Trump is better than us. He is better than you and than me.

 

It doesn’t matter if he does lots in the interest of self-promotion. That does not erase the actual good he does. Imagine if Bill Gates started media whoring like Trump does, just to stroke his own ego. Does that somehow erase his 28 billion dollar charity donation? Of course not. So let’s not be so quick to measure Trump’s good against someone else’s and start issuing yuge penalties because he’s an egotist. The raw math still adds up to the clear conclusion: Trump is better than us...much, much better. More vain? Yes! More altruistic impact on the world? Also yes. Sorry.

 

 


How correct are you, exactly?

Trump won because America is sexist. No, he won because of an unfortunate electoral system. No, he won because America is racist! No, he won because America wants economic growth again! No, he won because people are sick of having their system drained by illegal immigrants.

 

Here’s the one thing I’m sure about: I don’t know. The world has been filled, even more than usual, with absolutely ardent opinions. It is making it unbearable to talk to anyone of any political ideologies. Everyone seems to be the expert on America, people’s minds, and everything that Donald Trump has ever done. An interesting tactic that folks might like to try, is to say “I don’t know” a lot more often.

 

Did people voting for third parties give the election to Trump? You don’t know.

Is Trump a racist or sexist deep down in his mind? You don’t know.

Did the media cover the process fairly? You don’t know.

Which issues caused this surprise? You don’t know.

 

Practice with me. I don’t know. I don’t know.

 

Now that we have that out of our systems, we can start to have genuine arguments. We need to propose smaller things as facts and then back them up. No, we really don’t know if the fact that Trump was straightforward about Islamic terrorism won him a lot of voters. Once we admit we don’t know, we can start diving into the facts and actually exchanging information for once. Both trumpists and antitrumpists are guilty of this, and it is making it impossible to hear one’s self think. If you are a genuinely uninformed, confused person, like me, do yourself a favour and stay out of bold declarations. Every time you make an end-of-the-world tweet, a puppy dies, because the wave of overconfidence in your opinion is enough to crush the soul of small, cute things.

 

I have no problem with people giving opinions. It’s merely the certainty that disturbs me. If you are only 30% sure of something, you needn’t hide that fact. Research the topic more until you can bring it up a few percentage points, or be honest that it is just too difficult a topic for you to figure out right now. There are people that spend their entire lives studying the topic about which you just made a bold social media statement, and when you read their book, you’ll notice that they are only about 60% sure of anything. What are the odds that you know more about this than they do?

 

Is there any chance that you’re wrong? What are the chances? How do you know? Have you been wrong before on this topic? On what information is your prediction based?

 

Are you ready to answer these questions? If not, what does that grand outcry on social media really mean? No. No. It’s the others who are wrong. You surely nailed it.

 

 


Do you actually want freedom?

Freedom isn’t freedom. And you don’t want it.

 

Here are some facts about freedom that a stereotypical Democrat, Republican, and Libertarian might not like to hear.

 

My message…

 

to the Democrat:

 

  • Freedom includes the right to defend yourself with a gun.
  • Freedom includes the right to speak your mind about any topic.
  • Freedom includes the right to spend your money as you see fit.

 

 

to the Republican:

 

  • Freedom includes the right for someone of any gender or sex to bump uglies with anyone.
  • -Freedom includes the right to not be religious in any way, even if you hold public office.
  • Freedom includes the right to abort a pregnancy.

 

 

to the Libertarian:

 

  • Freedom includes the right to not fear that an untrained driver will run you over.
  • Freedom includes the right to not need to worry about insane, armed people.
  • Freedom includes the right to enforce freedom, even outside your borders.

 

 

 

No matter which words you decide to use to describe yourself politically, you don’t really want freedom. You want freedom to get what you want and for others to deal with it. Have you thought about where Donald Trump is on the freedom spectrum?

 

Free trade people will be saddened to know that he is a rather extreme protectionist and anti-free trade. Business owners will be disappointed in his willingness to tell them how to run their companies. The religious will be saddened that he refuses to make religious issues (like the anti-gay marriage crusade), federal law. The regressive left will be shocked by his refusal to hide the fact that Islam is a major contributor to terrorism and his refusal to censor himself for fear of triggering others. The classic drug war supporters will be terrified at his refusal to keep marijuana federally illegal.

 

He just doesn’t fit in any predefined categories. I don’t have much good to say about Trump, but I will applaud his custom approach. He is doing what he thinks is right, not what some political party has written on their website. I think we should take that page (and maybe only that page) from his book.

 

Stop using one or two words to describe your ideology. To convey that message accurately, you need to dig deep to the bedrock of you priorities and moral foundation. How much freedom should we have? Are you a supporter of democracy…even if someone you don’t like is elected? How much of a right do you have to force someone at gunpoint to pay for other people’s expenses? Are you allowed to tell a business how to operate? Is the future progress of the world or the current suffering in the world a more important issue? When do your rights end and mine begin, if we want different things? Would you send troops to another country if there was a genocide? How willing are you to use violence as a means of political change? Etc.

 

No party has internal alignment on all these issues, and you probably agree with Trump on more than you think.

 

 

 

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Categories: General, Whitlock's Logs of the Mundane

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