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He revealed important truths, in spite of himself

Donald Trump will leave the White House and be out 2024 campaigning soon. Much will be written about the damage Trump inflicted on government, and his criminality will become evident, story by gruesome story, as people pick through whatever evidence is left behind. In contrast to this necessary work, I want to discuss something else — the usefulness of Donald Trump.

Over 70 million Americans voted for a man poised to win the title of worst U.S. president ever. Along his path from 2015 to 2020, Trump revealed much about America, in a way an average John Kaisch Republican could never do. Following Steve Bannon saying “Let Trump be Trump,” Trump let Americans be Americans in a way no other president had done before. White fragility. White privilege. White evangelicalism. White supremacy. A rainbow of white pathologies shown bright under Trump. While there is no single explanation for why he won any state this election in the midst of nationwide recession and pandemic, his electoral presence, even in national loss, reveals much about our politics that we have never seen so clearly before. …


What will Biden’s transition find?

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What will be left?

Once Trump accepts losing the election, and that will happen, he will treat the Biden transition as the impeachment — minimal cooperation and maximum concealment. But, behind the high-level official actors, are government workers in a bureaucracy that has borne the tremendous weight of Trumpian corruption. There will be consequences from Trump’s reign never seen by any transition before.

The Unknown Corruption

We cannot know the magnitude of Trump’s corruption until the change in administration affords direct access to workers and remaining records. The CDC is just an exemplar of the Trump malignancy spread throughout the federal government. …


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Trump Transition Plan

Donald Trump is a coward and will walk out of the White House if Biden wins. He will rage tweet and file swing-state lawsuits, but ultimately will Tulsa sulk alone across the lawn for a helicopter ride to his jet bound for Mar-A-Lago. No customary meeting with the president-elect at the White House and no attendance at the inauguration.

The looming disaster is not Trump barricading himself behind the Goya Resolute desk with a MAGA horde. It is the scorched earth his administration will leave behind as he flies off to Florida that Wednesday morning.

Barrels, Shredders and Delete

The day Re-elect Trump clearly is lost, every federal office with a political appointee will choke with burn barrel smoke and hum with shredder white-noise broken only by machine-gun delete-key tapping. Trump is not known as a gracious loser, nor is he known to retain such people. His administration has few concerned for future reputations. It is full of grifters, opportunists and incompetents who will be mad at Biden and terrified of prosecution. …


Trump looking smug.
Trump looking smug.
Photo by: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, USA / CC BY-SA

Acceptable death continuum

For Trump to say the public health cure is worse than the COVID-19 pandemic, he presents a calculus of acceptable dead versus economic damage. This is opposed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “If it saves one life, I’m happy.” Here is the acceptable death continuum.

So how many people dying is worth a faster economic recovery ?

Trump horrified progressives weighing the economy against people. But Cuomo’s statement of solidarity, while poetic and caring, is an absurd hypothetical. Considering public health intervention’s social cost is not, in itself, irrational. …


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Politicians and ballplayers are superstitious…keep that in mind.

Most elected officials and party leaders fear their own shadows — that is the unconsidered problem.

Edward Gmelch, an anthropologist and former minor-league first-baseman wrote about magic and superstition among baseball players. In short, the more uncertain the outcome of a player’s performance, the more players rely on rituals, taboos and fetishes to manage anxiety in an attempt to control outcomes. So, pitchers are the most superstitious players because even a good outing on their part can yield a loss. These players are most likely to be sure to pick up litter on the field, or chew a certain kind of gum, or even shave their arms before a game, if that is what was done before past successes. Batters also have a healthy share of superstitions because even great players fail two-thirds of the time. …


Patience and The Art of War

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Textbook case for impeachment that just will not work.

The most difficult thing in politics is to resist the drums of partisan outrage and patiently wait for the best time to move. As textbook an impeachable act as the Ukraine call is, charging Trump on it is an unwinnable position for Pelosi and House Democrats. Trump knows impeachment will excite his base at no threat to him and will goad the House into it. Simple.

Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush. -Sun Tzu, The Art of War (Ch. 1)

A consistent theme in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is manipulating one’s enemy to take a disadvantaged position. Through challenging pride, provoking anger or creating deception, lure opponents into actions that will lead to their demise. …


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License Guns as Cars

In the wake of El Paso and Dayton, we are again at the point of asking why no passage of reasonable federal gun regulation? Is there that much money flowing into GOP coffers that no Republican will act? Is there that much fear 2nd Amendment voters will stay home on Election Day, allowing more Democratic candidates to win?

What is so unacceptable about regulating guns as much as we do cars? Gun rights activists tolerate extensive restrictions on cars. Cars which are much more important to a person’s daily economic life than a gun will ever be. Think about life without a car — most 2nd amendment voters would be economically devastated if unable to drive. …


Crimes Against Humanity matter most

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons; Matthew Tyson via BTBW

Yesterday, Politico reported that now a majority of U.S. House Democrats support an impeachment inquiry. Last month, I wrote about why not to impeach Trump based on Mueller. In short, my belief is, since the Senate will not convict on Russiagate, the entire exercise will help Trump more than hurt him. But Democrats are building a momentum towards impeachment.

There is evil to expose and a moral imperative to act against Trump, but obstruction of justice will never reveal the depths of his depravity. …


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The Art of War, a 2,500 year old Chinese text, was the first book I ever studied with a pencil in hand. While in my Reagan-era high school, I found Sun Tzu fascinating. Life then, as now, is full of uncertain conflict and a way to move through it based on observation, thoughtfulness and logic resonated with me.

Impeach Trump. Abolish ICE. Single-Payer. Green New Deal. How does this ancient text apply to progressive efforts today?


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Pelosi and Sun Tzu would agree — impeaching Trump is unwise strategy.

If Sun Tzu, author of the 2,500 year old Art of War, was alive and in Democratic politics today, he would oppose impeaching Donald Trump. And in the cliché du jour, Nancy Pelosi gives a masterclass on his approach.

There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must be not attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested… (Art of War, Ch. 8)

How is this old work relevant? Substitute the word “politics” for “war.” We wage campaigns with words and images to define the situation in ways to move voters and public officials to act. …

About

Eric Hensal

A progressive activist for 30 years who takes problems apart to see how they tick. Author of A Progressive Art of War https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578551047

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