Lawrence Summers has written an opinion piece, entitled “Donald Trump is a serious threat to American democracy.” We can only hope.
Of course, he doesn’t care about the crafted story of democracy – the people are in charge, the people are the government, the will of the people. The story we are taught in school. But he knows this is what most people will read – or at least he hopes this to be true. What he does care about is the façade – and if Trump threatens the façade, I find no reason to lament.
Just to assure you that he isn’t over-reacting, he offers – as the very first sentence:
While comparisons between Donald Trump and Mussolini or Hitler are overwrought….
This caution serves to place Summers in the “reasonable” camp – he isn’t fear-mongering, you see.
…Trump’s rise does illustrate how democratic processes can lose their way and turn dangerously toxic when there is intense economic frustration and widespread apprehension about the future.
Forgive me, but “toxic” became a permanent feature of the office no later than Woodrow Wilson; I offer Lincoln as well, although there have been one or two (relatively) decent presidents post-Abe. If you want to offer Washington as the beginning of “toxic,” I won’t argue.
The possible election of Donald Trump as president is the greatest present threat to the prosperity and security of the United States.
It is difficult to take this man seriously. Just in the last 50 years…
…Johnson escalated a war that sent almost 60,000 Americans to their death.
…Nixon put the final nail in the coffin of the dollar as holding any meaningful value.
…Reagan made budget deficits acceptable to so-called conservatives.
…Bush the elder began permanent war with Iraq.
…Clinton began Nato’s overt expansion to the east.
…Bush the younger lied the country into two wars – both lasting much longer than any previous war in US history; he turned America into the most far-reaching police-state in history.
…Obama expanded those wars into several more countries, brought the US and Russia to the verge of war, and expanded Bush’s police state.
We have had plenty of “threat[s] to the prosperity and security of the United States” just in the last 50 years. And this says nothing about the threats posed to the prosperity and security of those who live outside of the United States.
…never before had I feared that what I regarded as the wrong outcome would in the long sweep of history risk grave damage to the American project.
“Grave damage” (both literally and figuratively) was done to the “American project” by Lincoln. From that point forward, it was clear what it meant to attempt to check federal government power. If there was ever an “American project” worth considering (I said “if”), it was precisely this check.
He vowed to kill the families of terrorists, use extreme forms of torture…
Please, Larry. Setting aside the “vowed” part, no president before has ever done such things? I certainly don’t agree with such things, but at least Trump is honest.
Lyndon Johnson’s celebrated biographer, Robert Caro, has written that while “power doesn’t always corrupt…[it] always reveals.”
It revealed plenty about the mass-murdering Johnson. Trump vs. Johnson? I will lay odds.
What will a demagogue with a platform like Trump’s who ascends to the presidency do with control over the NSA, FBI and IRS?
Probably whatever he wants. This makes him different from his predecessors…how?
What commitment will he manifest to the rule of law?
What rule of law? Obama promised to take action without Congress on how many occasions? We live in a nation driven by administrative regulation. “Rule of law” is a farce in this reality.
Already Trump has proposed that protesters at his rallies “should have been roughed up.”
Four dead in O-HI-O.
One shudders to think what…President George Wallace would have done at the end of the turbulent 1960s.
Let’s ask, from his 1968 campaign:
If the Vietnam War was not winnable within 90 days of his taking office, Wallace pledged an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops ... Wallace described foreign aid as money 'poured down a rat hole' and demanded that European and Asian allies pay more for their defense.
Beat me with that stick.
Demonstrating the fact that he has no clue about why Trump is popular, Summers offers:
The U.S. and China are struggling over influence in Asia. It is hard to imagine something better for China than the U.S moving to adopt a policy of "truculent isolationism."
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a central element in our rebalancing toward Asia, could collapse.
Japan would have to take self-defense, rather than reliance on American security guarantees, more seriously.
And others in Asia would inevitably tilt from a more erratic America towards a relatively steady China.
For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow….
The sooner Donald Trump is relegated to the margins of our national life, the better off we and the world will be.
At least Summers didn’t call for an assassination.
If we are to move past Trumpism, it will be essential to develop convincing responses to economic slowdown.
Wrong. If you are to move past Trumpism, stop with the money manipulation and stop with the foreign intervention. Neither Trump nor many of his supporters may be able to put it so succinctly, but these are the root of the problems to which Trump speaks.
If I may be so bold, it is Trump who is carrying and extending the Ron Paul Revolution. This has nothing to do with the similarities of the two men: Ron Paul is infinitely better grounded philosophically and intellectually; he is extremely consistent in his views and positions. And no, I do not expect any meaningful moves toward a less authoritarian government under a Trump regime.
But both men are perceived to offer a way out from money manipulation and foreign intervention. These were at the root of the Revolution, and these are at the root of Trump’s message.
It was obvious in 2008 that people were looking for an alternative. Ron Paul’s popularity soared. Many thought they were getting an alternative in Obama – they know better today.
Trump offers an alternative – at least that is today’s perception. I make no statement about the reality if he is elected. At least he is changing what is allowable in conversation.
And if he has the effect that Summers laments – a threat to American democracy – he will have done a good service. Maybe people will finally see past this false god.