Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Post No. 195: Why Those of Us Who Consider Ourselves to be “Pretty Smart” Should Not Be So Quick to Label Donald Trump a “Clown”

© 2015, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

A buddy of mine sent me a copy of a blog post by another blogger where reference is made to Donald Trump as the “clown genius.” Many other commentators have chosen to leave off the word genius. The following is my response, which I originally entitled, Why I Think that Donald Trump is Doing So Well in the Polls, after reading the other blogger’s post.

I have always felt that the political discussions (and almost all discussions about most anything for that matter) which take place on TV (and now other technological platforms) are dominated by those of us fortunate enough to have acquired at least some type of higher education, become professionals of some sort, read certain types of books, make enough money to consider ourselves truly middle-class, OR who are motivated for whatever reason to actively seek out information and analyze it with some degree of detachment.

Some years ago, there was a C-Span2 Book TV program where the author or authors discussed their book about how politics in particular is controlled by roughly 20% [if I remember correctly; it may have been as little as 10%] of the entire population here in the United States, and that ½ of whatever the percentage is considers themselves progressive, and the other ½ considers themselves conservatives.

We sit around talking about policy this and policy that, and position this and position that, just like we do (or did) in our respective professions, and we hang around, socialize, and live near people who might have different views than we do, but still have similar educational, class, and socio-economic backgrounds and experiences, and similar appreciations of history.

When I returned to my hometown in the South after living in Los Angeles for 30 years, and started teaching at the community college level, working day laborer jobs, selling watermelons and peaches (particularly to people in housing projects and poor communities), and traveled “down east” to interview people about the impact of unions and large corporate employers on their lives, it became very clear to me that those who I refer to as “regular folks,” do not have the discussions we “intellectual snobs” have. They have far more significant issues to face in life on a daily basis. When I started blogging, and coming across the views of those who previously did not have a voice which reached beyond their communities, I saw it even more clearly.

They could give a shit about listening to Charlie Rose, Thomas Friedman, David Brooks, George Will, or Face the Nation. I contend that they constitute about 80 – 90% % of the population, but that the vast majority of us within the educational or “higher interest” snobbish elite fail to really comprehend their size because we do not deal with them on a regular basis.

It is my position that Mr. Trump speaks to, and to some extent represents, those who have “real issues” in life on a daily basis and who have FEELINGS and positions which may not politically correct, but which are very real. We routinely minimalize their issues and concerns because we intellectual snobs are too busy controlling the agenda and the discussion, and telling others what to do, and how policies should be applied “for the benefit of society.” Donald Trump at least claims (whether rightly or wrongly) that he will get certain things done and take action, not merely talk about them or intellectualize ad nauseam. I believe that he speaks to the huge segment of society with whom we intellectual snobs have little regular contact – folks with REAL issues, and who fight REAL battles on a daily basis.

That so many of us in the rarefied air laugh at him and designate him as a clown speaks volumes in my view.

At the end of the day, big money interests and Super PACs unleased by Citizen’s United will control, and the vast, vast, vast majority of us will continue to be the pawns that we are. As a practical matter, 95% of us who consider ourselves "sophisticated" really have no more marginally significant power than regular folks. We’re just 5 or 6, or maybe 10 paychecks or Social Security payments from disaster, as compared to most of society which lives from paycheck or payment to paycheck or payment.


  1. And so, just what would happen if someone actually representing the views of the 80% actually got power? We know how god helps the sick and stupid (but also makes sure they collaborate on reproducing their kind).

    How fortunate we are that the 80% cannot be satisfied in government because they do not agree what any goal beyond the selfish can possibly look like, or any goal requiring background knowledge to define can be worth while. Individuals can do this, but not the 80%

    I am too old to want to delay the progress of the US to wherever it is going, so i hope Trump carries the religious brain-dead and gets in on a landslide. Just for its entertainment value - we're going their anyway. Hope you are well Reg.

    1. Welcome back, CorfuBob. Of course, we all know that someone representing the views of 80% of the population, or 60 %, or even 40% of the population (considering the influence of big money) is not going to happen. However, I, like you, love the prospect of a shake-up. The manner in which those who currently "lead" our country is troubling, with their committees, rules, procedures, seniority, and now with Citizens United to fund their personal interests....

  2. Brilliant! Again... As usual. I dread Trump's potential victory because I believe he would have more enemies within the government than any other contender. All of the grandiose plans and policies he may propose would likely be blocked by the career politicians and career bureaucrats... who make up the "ruling class" or (as Cruz calls them) "the Washington Cartel", making a Trump administration perhaps the most inept and ineffective administrations in our history. At the same time, I understand his allure for the common citizen. Yet, I worry that I am watching "Rome" fall.

    1. Welcome back, Douglas. You make some very good points, not the least of which is that this post is brilliant! LOL :)

      On a serious note, I think that you are spot on. I think that we often forget that there are good and bad ramifications associated with most things in life. There is simply no way that Trump would be able to "rule and dictate" in government in the manner to which he is accustomed in the private sector with his own businesses. However, as many have said, I would like to see the less than transparent and convoluted way in which we govern ourselves (and the undue influence of money) shaken up a bit.

      This should be an interesting thread.

  3. I could not disagree more. Trump is not doing anything new. He is simply appealing to the more banal instincts and underlying nativist and racist culture that has never disappeared from this country despite the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Modern Civil Rights Movement. The signs came down but very little has changed. Moreover, we should not forget that this country was founded on the extermination of the original inhabitants, the theft of their land, built by slaves and the theft of lands from Mexico and Spain. The original US Constitution sustains that "peculiar institution" and even though the Declaration of Independance claims "All Men Are Created Equal..." some men then and now where more equal than others and lets not even talk about the fate of women at that time and now.. Moving forward in history, the south and its violent defense of slavery lost the war but they may have won the cultural wars because even today racism is as American as apple and cherry pie. These days there is a new group of "niggers" added to the list. In short, all Trump is doing is appealing to this underlying American culture of racism, narcissism and nativism. Nothing new here. Bigots have been doing this since the founding.

    1. Thanks, Justpolitics, for sharing your thoughts on my forum. I welcome ALL points of views, and appreciate your participation.

      Let me make sure that I understand your position. Is it your contention that those members of society who are racist, narcissistic, and subscribers of nativism are not entitled to feel that way, and that they should not be able to support and follow a person who they perceive advances their interests?

      Is it your position that their feelings and interests, and desires should be disregarded?

      I just wanted to make sure I understood your position.

      BTW, I couldn't agree with YOUR position more. Although I am not a particularly sophisticated or enlightened member of society, I strongly suspect that you are spot on with respect to your assessment of many who support Mr. Trump.

      Please return to my forum as often as you like. I get the impression that you would add much to the discussion.

    2. Just, people resent and often refuse to go along when they lose in war and politics. If you read your history, you might find that much of that resentment was fostered by the events after the Civil War. But, you are correct, racism is still common, even rampant, in this country... much of it subconscious in nature and I don't think it's ever going to be eradicated. Especially among those who firmly believe they are not racist.

    3. Douglas, you have heard me address the issue of racism on numerous occasions over the years. Why should we care about how people feel? What makes us think that we can dictate to people how they should feel? Is there a right or correct way to feel about others? Should those theoretically in the minority in terms of their feelings be castigated and ostracized for feeling or thinking outside of the purported mainstream? Is it possible that racism is far more prevalent in society and that a far larger number of us harbor racist feelings than we are willing to admit in this PC environment? Would it be better for society if the racists felt more comfortable about coming out and expressing their true feelings? At least we would know who they are...

    4. I think racism is rampant throughout societies in the US and abroad. I think it is inherent to human nature, embedded in our DNA. From the lowest of the low to the most successful, it is in our nature to dislike or distrust those who look not like us. Can it be educated out of us? I doubt it.

    5. Douglas, I'm with you with respect to attributing racism to DNA. I continue to argue that we waste much in the way of valuable human time and resources arguing about it and suggesting that it can be "solved" or even substantially reduced, except possibly through ensuring that people have jobs and can take care of themselves and their families, and thus avoid fighting among themselves. While "competition" between various segments of society has its positive aspects, we have to realize that not everyone is going to be a winner, not everyone is going to be happy or satisfied with their lot, and that there will be many casualties of the competition, and I believe that racism is substantially driven by the evolutionary drive to survive based in our DNA.

      Racism has been around far too long to suggest that we can somehow solve it.

    6. I disagree only with your premise about reducing racism substantially, that's what our PC culture is all about: culturally suppressing the expression of racism. By forcing us to curb our expression of it, the culture hopes to suppress its manifestation over time. To some extent, I believe it may be working. But something so embedded in our natures might also create a backlash. As "Just" suggests, maybe that is behind the spreading nativism. Though that happens often when an economy is in trouble, it may indeed be related to racism.

    7. Douglas, it is interesting to me how so many, like our fellow contributor, JustPolitics, have brought up the issue of race and racism in connection with Donald Trump. I personally think that he reflects the views of lots of people all across the racial and ideological spectrums. That some are trying to frame, categorize, or pigeon-hole him as a racist, holding racist views, or appealing to racists is intellectually interesting to me. While I suspect that the use of such terminology in connection with his campaign has much to do with the positions on immigration he has taken, I would like to think that just because someone has a radical and different approach to how immigration matters should be handled which is different than the manner in which they are currently handled, we would not label him or her a racist. Some sub-groups' interests or priorities are always going to be negatively impacted through change.

      Back to your comment specifically, I believe that there is a difference between racist feelings and views (what are in one's heart and mind) and overt racist acts. I also believe that under certain circumstances, and in response to certain stimuli, violent or negative racist acts are more likely to occur.

      For example, I believe that construction workers harboring racist views or sentiments, who are actively employed, have less time to, less motivation to, and are less likely to bitch and complain about immigrants (whether legal or illegal) performing construction work, even though they might hate immigrants. However, I believe that unemployed construction workers harboring racist views or sentiments, have more time to, more motivation to, and are more likely to bitch and complain, about immigrants (whether legal or illegal) performing construction work, and more likely to engage in overt, violent, racist acts.

      While I realize that this attitude or manner of thinking is unsophisticated and simplistic, I'm a pretty unsophisticated and simplistic guy, and I think that my way of thinking may fall in the realm of common sense as opposed to some report or study put out by some Pew Research Group on Racism.

      More jobs, more jobs, more jobs. They provide (1) a sense of stability and confidence to the individual, (2) something about which to feel proud, (3) some sense of satisfaction, self esteem and self worth, (4) the ability to take care of one's self and loved ones, and (5) they occupy one's time. We as a society or the government which "manages" its citizens should not be in the business of regulating, legislating, or telling people how they should feel, and what is "correct" to hold in their hearts.

  4. First, everyone is entitled to their opinion in a free and democratic society. I am merely pointing out the reasons for the spectacular rise of Mr. Trump to the top of the GOP field of presidential candidates. Our mainstream media is simply too lazy and incestuous to do the work necessary to point out the contradictions, source and danger of Trump's appeal. If the mainstream media would do their work Mr. Trump might not be so appealing.

    1. BTW,, does the fact that I may agree with Mr. Trump on some of his positions make me a 'racist?" At what point is one a racist if he agrees with some of the positions taken by Mr. Trump? 20%, 40%, 60%, or 89%? Are all of his positions those which cannot be supported by African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, or South Pacific Islanders?

  5. Interesting, Justpolitics. Let me see if I understand a couple of things. First, you claim to clearly have identified the the reasons for Mr. Trump's position in the polls, and I suspect that a corollary position of yours would be that you can establish a direct and cause and effect relationship. Second, it appears you contend that it is the mainstream media's "responsibility" to point out the contradictions, source, and danger of Mr. Trump's appeal. From what source or authority does that "responsibility" derive? Does the mainstream media have such a responsibility to point out the contradictions, source, and danger of the appeal of ALL candidates, or are only certain candidates dangerous?

    You suggest that the mainstream media is "lazy." Apart from the incestuous nature of the profession, to what other factors or reasons do you attribute their laziness? How would you correct it?

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