Disallusioned Electorate Wants Punches Not Plans

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By Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News


“We live in an era where trust has collapsed in every single institution in the country with the exception of the military and it is not without cause,” Republican Strategist Steve Schmidt said on Meet the Press Sunday morning. “An era of systemic fraud in business, in politics, in the culture, in sports, in religion, all of it accumulating to this moment in time where someone has come forward with profound communication skills offering easy answers to people who…have seen no changes.”

Though Schmidt didn’t mention America’s press, especially national television and radio, it easily qualifies as one of the top reasons why we are such a politically fractured country today. MSNBC and Fox are the poster children for partisan news programs. They have taken the anger and frustration with the fraud and broken trusts, added their hyper spin to it, and helped polarize the nation.

That polarization is the perfect environment, in many ways, for those who control Congress. Wall Street and other special interests behind changing laws and regulations that favor their accumulation of wealth, that bails them out when their excesses put the nation on the edge of ruin, profit by and control a bitterly divided government. They walk away without consequences for their actions, demoralizing all who don’t share in their accumulating wealth – the other 99 percent of the nation, both Democrat and Republican.

All we have gotten are unrealistic promises to the fringes of both parties, unsurprisingly broken time after time, that are now responsible for the political atmosphere that dominates our culture. It is an atmosphere that frustratingly creates more of the same on steroids.

Billionaire Republican candidate for president Donald Trump’s attractiveness is that he is a completely unconventional candidate. He is against the establishment. He says things that are politically incorrect, down right offensive, insulting to national war heroes (Sen. John McCain), sexist, vulgar, outrageous and full of primal anger.

He appeals to his supporters at the visceral core of their anger when he says things like, “I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell ya,” about a protestor at one of his rallies. That is just one of his many comments inciting and justifying his audience to take action against those who protest at his campaign rallies. A few others include:
“In the good old days this doesn’t happen, because they used to treat them very, very rough.”
“You know what I hate? …We’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”
“Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”
 “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would ya? Seriously. Just knock the hell out of them.”

Those comments are fed to a crowd that has already embraced his incendiary stands and statements on immigration, refugees, Muslims, terrorism, trade and minorities. He taps into their fears and anger over what they see as an America that has lost its way.

“Trump voters are a coalition of the dispossessed. They have suffered lost jobs, lost wages, lost dreams. The American system is not working for them, so naturally they are looking for something else,” New York Times columnist, and Republican, David Brooks writes.

But what his supporters entirely ignore is the fact that he has not proposed one realistic idea for addressing the nation’s problems. His promises to his supporters are either flat out unachievable or so astronomically costly that they would financially ruin the nation. But when people’s fears are fueled by passion and anger, reason has little chance of taking hold.

“Trump is perhaps the most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetimes,” Brooks continues. “All politicians stretch the truth, but Trump has a steady obliviousness to accuracy.”

He points to Politico reporters Daniel Lippman, Darren Samuelsohn and Isaac Arnsdorf who fact-checked 4.6 hours of Trump speeches and press conferences in an article titled: Trump’s week of Error, Exaggerations, and Flat-out Falsehoods. “They found more than five dozen untrue statements, or one every five minutes.

“His remarks represent an extraordinary mix of inaccurate claims about domestic and foreign policy and personal and professional boasts that rarely measure up when checked against primary sources,” they wrote.

Trump’s supporters don’t seem interested in hearing 10-point plans about how to improve the economy, deal with terrorism, address our failing infrastructure, address Wall Street excesses, or provide quality jobs to a dwindling middle class. It is good enough that he wants to “punch” somebody, whether it be a protestor, a country that he sees as an unfair trade partner, or immigrants who are in America illegally. It’s the emotion that counts, not any sort of plan for accomplishing what he promises.

Republicans created this bitter populism that started with the Tea Party and has now evolved into Trumpism. While it worked to get Republican members of Congress elected, it has gutted the moderate wing of the party. We may be witnessing the final stages of the destruction of the Republican Party by its right wing. Some in the party have already talked about supporting a third party candidate in the fall.

To govern is to compromise after weighing the points of two thoughtful plans, but that core tenant of good government has been abandoned by the Republicans dominated by their angry base. It’s our way or a shutdown doesn’t get important things done.

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