Genuine Pivot or Deliberate Re-Branding? Donald Trump’s Speech to the Joint Session of Congress, Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Why this post?

To post a comment on Donald Trump’s first speech to a Joint Session of Congress, a full 2 weeks after the fact, may seem like a fruitless exercise.  However, a closer look at what he said and why he said it may be well worth the effort.  The very fact that an interval of 2 weeks could make analysis of this nationally- anticipated speech seem dated is in itself a commentary on the President’s style and strategy. Whether deliberate or spontaneous, Trump’s style is guaranteed to keep us guessing about what he really intends. His erratic behavior creates uncertainty about what to expect and what to count on.  Across all sectors of government, it keeps us in the dark about likely future actions. Continue reading “Genuine Pivot or Deliberate Re-Branding? Donald Trump’s Speech to the Joint Session of Congress, Tuesday, February 28, 2017”

Religious Authoritarianism and the Trump Administration

Analysts have written endless numbers of commentaries to explain why Trump voters voted for him and why they are continuing to support him. “Trump does what he says he is going to do,” they say. “He is authentic”. “Clinton was a crook.” “My identity is being disrespected while undeserving people are being given handouts by the government.” “We can’t afford a higher minimum wage, paid sick leave, maternity leave, healthcare, job protections, public transportation, child day care.” Instead of handouts, they say, government should encourage private enterprise. Trump voters feel they are unfairly disadvantaged economically. They feel their patriotism is not admired. “Money spent on the military is patriotic.” They want to return America to the fifties and the supremacy of white men.

Do these short hand quotes really explain, however, the incredible picture of Trump appointing, almost without exception, incoming heads of departments who vow to destroy both the meaning and the substance of the work of these departments. Even the degree of hatred of anything Obama did is not a powerful enough explanation. After all, the meaning of these departments is to help Americans realize their dreams. To be the American Dream. The best national park system, the best public school system, the best health care, the best public transportation, the safest air, the safest water.   Americans should feel proud of these programs and goals. Instead, on the Trump side, they appear to despise them.

Can the incoming Republican really put as their first priority squashing the homeless, the helpless, the sick, the refugee, the native American trying to preserve his heritage. The answer is: yes, they can. For Republicans, the American Dream is private goods, house, car, vacations, opportunity for my kids. It is not public goods – clean air and water or national parks. Empathy is not part of the American Dream for people who you don’t know or don’t look like you. The Republicans who lack empathy or any sense of community with Americans who are not just like them will not only seem cruel, they will be cruel.

Commentators are missing one large target for explaining the Trump supporter that does not require believing they are all bad people. They need to look at their religious convictions, which the Trump supporters say are guiding their actions and which probably are. Continue reading “Religious Authoritarianism and the Trump Administration”