Estimated Reading Time : 15 minutes 37 seconds
"IN THE MIDST OF CHAOS, THERE IS ALSO OPPORTUNITY" - SUN TZU
A little over a month ago Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election. I was in the minority as I was not one of those shocked by this outcome, but many people were and still are positively shocked and maybe even shell-shocked. Hillary supporters in particular were blindsided by the election and are very angry, hurt and upset about the result. Even though I am not a Democrat or a Clinton supporter (nor am I a Republican or Trump supporter), I truly understand how they feel and I even have empathy for them and their situation. That said, as I have witnessed Clinton supporters react to the election results over the last month on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, in the media and elsewhere, I have been struck by how counter-productive their reactions have been.
The biggest problem with the Clintonites reactions to the election are just that, they have been reactions and not responses. A reaction is emotion based and a response is reason based. That in a nutshell is not only what is wrong with the Clinton supporters post-election actions but also with the entire Clinton campaign. Emotionalism is the scourge of our time and the post election reaction by Clinton supporters proves this point almost as much as the emotionalist Trump campaign's victory.
"THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO BE FOOLED. ONE IS TO BELIEVE WHAT ISN'T TRUE; THE OTHER IS TO REFUSE TO BELIEVE WHAT IS." - SOREN KEIRKEGAARD
"GET THEE TO A NUNNERY, GO. FAREWELL. OR IF THOU WILT NEEDS MARRY, MARRY A FOOL, FOR WISE MEN KNOW WELL ENOUGH WHAT MONSTERS YOU MAKE OF THEM" - HAMLET
A great example of this Clintonite reaction was from a reader of my post-election piece who wrote in response to it that because I was a "straight, white male" my opinion wasn't worth anything and should be ignored. This reader is an unemployed, middle-aged, white woman and a vociferous Clinton supporter. I understand her frustration and frankly her embarrassment at having been so catastrophically wrong about the election in every single way, so her emotionalism is to be expected, but that doesn't make it any less useful as an example or any less harmful to her alleged long term political interests. Her reaction to my piece was to, unintentionally no doubt, prove the point of it, namely that identity politics was what painted Clinton and the democrats into a corner from which she could not escape. So she reduced my argument to being nothing more than my identity. She then said that she could explain to me why I was so wrong but that she wouldn't because I "just wouldn't get it." This is a wonderful rhetorical device, refuse to actually engage an argument by blaming it on the stupidity of your opponent rather than your inability to articulate it.
Sadly, this ill-informed woman is a perfect example of the failure of the Clinton campaign, she feels entitled to not have to actually make an argument to persuade people to her side. This foolish woman refused to acknowledge the obvious in our situation, namely that I, regardless of my sexual preference, race or gender was right about the election and she was spectacularly wrong, because that would undermine her perceived intellectual and moral superiority, which is essential for her to maintain her self-delusional identity in the world. What struck me most about this exchange was that it foreshadows the strategic and tactical ineffectiveness to come from democrats as they wander in the political wilderness for the next two years which, with this lack of thoughtfulness, will most likely turn into 8 or more years.
"YOU CANNOT ESCAPE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF TOMORROW BY EVADING IT TODAY" - ABRAHAM LINCOLN
From what I have seen coming from democrats and Clinton supporters since the election, it is blatantly obvious that they have not only learned nothing from their failure, but they do not want to learn anything from it either. Hillary supporters have pointed their finger at the F.B.I., James Comey, Vladimir Putin, the Russians, fake news, the electoral college, racists, Nazis and misogynists in an attempt to cast blame on why they lost. This finger pointing and blaming is born out of an emotionalist arrogance and does nothing more than highlight and solidify the actual reason Clinton lost, her inability to be honest with herself and others and take responsibility. Clinton supporters can bemoan all sorts of external evils that conspired to take them down, but until they can muster the humility to actually look in the mirror and take full responsibility for their historical blindness, their lack of any coherent argument, their shocking tone-deafness, the atrocious campaign they ran and the dreadful candidate they put up, they will not learn anything and will not be able to mount a successful insurgency against Trump in the coming years.
This failure to learn anything or take any responsibility is not only bad news for democrats and Clinton supporters, but for our entire nation as well. If Clinton supporters truly believe Trump is as dangerous and tyrannical as they say he is, and he very well may be, then they would be most wise to stop thinking and acting emotionally and start thinking and acting strategically in order to stop him. Which is why I have written this little handbook on a strategic and tactical approach for the democrats to use in the coming years.
I know, I know, why on earth would anyone want to read a handbook on how to get back into power written by the horrors of horrors…a straight, white male? Great question, sweetheart. (I'm kidding!!) The answer is that straight, white men, and some gay ones too, have conquered and ruled the planet for centuries. For good or for ill, and a whole hell of a lot of it has been for ill, that is the reality of the world in which we live. With that in mind, it might be a wise move to listen to a straight, white male when it comes to issues of power and conquest if you want to conquer and rule. If you want to sit on the throne, you might want to know how to think like the king. And it might be an even smarter move to listen to this straight, white male who just so happened to be right about the election when you were so fantastically and spectacularly wrong. So, democrats and Clintonites, ignore this handbook at your own peril. Now onto the strategic and tactical guide.
"IT'S NOT PERSONAL, IT'S STRICTLY BUSINESS" - MICHAEL CORLEONE
Michael Corleone's point is critical to understand if you want to be successful in stopping the Trump agenda and his quest for a second term. The unemployed, middle-aged woman I referenced at the beginning of this piece was very heavily emotionally and psychologically invested in the Clinton campaign. This woman took the campaign, and Hillary's loss, very, very personally. I understand, I totally get it. Clinton was the first female candidate of a major political party and was thought to be a shoo-in for the presidency. Many women projected their struggles onto Hillary and took her success to be their success. This is a natural and normal thing to do especially when her opponent was such an obnoxious, misogynistic asshole. The problem though is that when Hillary supporters projected themselves onto her, it became all too easy for them to stop thinking logically and to start thinking emotionally. It is human nature when we take things personally to react emotionally, but reacting emotionally almost always makes things worse and not better. We have all been in the situation where we are pissed about something and we furiously write an email to the person who has angered us and then we send it and we escalate a situation that needn't be escalated and we create more drama and despair than we needed in our lives. The best course of action in cases like this is to wait 24 hours before sending the email. We all know this intellectually, but goodness knows we don't always act according to our intellect. Delaying the email gives us a chance to shift out of emotionalism and its myopic, limiting thought process and into rationalism which is much more cognitively expansive. It doesn't always work that way, as humans have the uncanny ability to stay pissed for a long time, or at least I do, but it usually works. Daybreak can bring with it a new perspective and a wiser decision that ceases our pain rather than exacerbates it.
"I RANT, THEREFORE I AM" - DENNIS MILLER
"NEVER INTERRUPT YOUR ENEMY WHEN HE IS MAKING A MISTAKE" - NAPOLEON
"THE SUPREME ART OF WAR IS TO SUBDUE THE ENEMY WITHOUT FIGHTING" - SUN TZU
Unfortunately, due to taking the Clinton loss personally, and the emotionalism that comes with that, since the election there has been a spate of Facebook rants from Hillary supporters bemoaning the outcome and belittling the fools who voted for Trump. Some have even become so enamored with their diatribes that they have filmed themselves reading those same rants (and even though they wrote the rant, they chose not to memorize it, which is the height of laziness) and then posted that as well. These rants usually involve calling all Trump voters racist, numerous mentions of the "KKK", charges of misogyny, xenophobia and stupidity along with the demand that anyone who voted for Trump or for a third party "unfriend" the ranter. Sadly, these breathless, yet heart felt rants, have the exact opposite effect of which the ranter intended, which is to strengthen their side and weaken the other side. I hate to be the one to tell these ranters, but what your rants actually do is strengthen your opponents and weaken you.
These ranter's opinions are as valid as anyone else's and they are entitled to them, but their arguments are vapid. These rants are not arguments at all so much as tantrums. They have all the intellectual heft and political sophistication of the backstage bitching at a child beauty pageant. These rants don't actually make any arguments, they only make accusations. And while these ranters obviously think they are brilliant and are exceedingly proud of their diatribes enough to film them and share those cringe-worthy bits of cinematic detritus, they are the equivalent of a toddler who throws their poop against the wall and is so proud of it because they think they have created art. Of course, it is only the poop throwing toddler alone who believes their mess is praiseworthy. While the poop wall may be vaguely reminiscent of a Pollock, it isn't going to hang in the Guggenheim, it will only be cleaned up and forgotten as quickly as possible.
The truth is these rants aren't meant to change anyone's minds at all, only to buttress the beliefs of the like minded. There is nothing wrong with that except the problem is that these rants don't happen in a liberal vacuum, they are posted for the entire world to see. The world not only includes the potential allies of third party voters whom you want to "unfriend", but also includes those marginal Trump voters, all 77,000 of them in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan who flipped from voting Obama twice and now made the difference for Trump.
While It is important to remember that there are an overwhelming majority of Trump voters who will never switch their allegiance, so trying to convince them is fruitless, it is equally important to remember there are a pivotal and key group of Trump supporters who can be convinced to change their allegiance. Those are the 77,000 voters that you need for victory in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. By lumping those 77,000 in with the other more rabid Trump voters, you are alienating crucial potential allies. Your empty-headed, emotionalist vitriol is forcing people away from your point of view and your candidates and towards Trump. It is sort of like when Hillary won the nomination and her supporters, like those now ranting, decided it was still a good idea to keep attacking "Bernie Bros" and all of their "mansplainin'". How did that work out for you, Sugartits? (Again…I am kidding!!) In other words, these ranters are cutting off their nose to spite their face. I am sure their rant feels good now, but it won't feel so good at Trump's next election victory party in 2020.
Another serious issue with these arrogantly self-serving tirades is the call for "unfriending" of anyone who dared disagree with the pompous ranter. Epistemic closure and living in a bubble is exactly how democrats got themselves into this whole mess in the first place. To demand even more epistemic rigidity and isolation is so mind-numbingly moronic as to be amazing. I understand that these ranters are irritated by people who disagree with them, but you just lost an election because your arguments were so remarkably flaccid. Shutting out any contrarian opinions now will only lead to more severe political and intellectual impotence. Arguments need to be forged in fire and strengthened by opposition. If you cannot sharpen your arguments against your enemies or even mildly oppositional forces, your arguments will atrophy and wither in the delusional comfort of your epistemic bubble. Calls for immediate removal of all oppositional opinions is literally sticking your head up your own ass. What is desperately needed now is not a tighter bubble, but the humility to admit you were wrong and to sharpen your arguments against the rock of those who oppose you. I totally understand why these ranters want to only shout and not to engage, life seems easier that way, but that is a one way ticket into further political and intellectual oblivion. Being on the battlefield of ideas is scary, especially if, like these ranters, you are unarmed, so to those folks I say arm yourself and find some courage. And when I say arm yourself, I don't mean just regurgitate what you heard on Rachel Maddow or what you read on DailyKos, that is not strengthening your arguments or nurturing vibrant intellectual debate, that is just one more exercise in confirmation bias.
"I NEVER HAD A PROBLEM RESISTING SOMEBODY THAT I KNEW WAS GOING TO BREAK MY HEART" - JENNIFER GARNER
Both physically and psychologically, it is human instinct to become more rigid and resist when someone pushes you. This resistance instinct is a natural occurrence when someone calls you names, like racist or misogynist, and pretends to know what you feel deep in your heart. The form of resistance taken in the face of these charges is for those being called racists to simply join with those who are in opposition to their attacker. In recent weeks, things have ratcheted up to the point where there are even social media/video rants from Clintonites that demand that Trump voters PROVE to them that they aren't racist. This is just the most self-serving horseshit imaginable. These social media ranters build a straw man, that all Trump voters, including those who voted for Obama twice, are racists, and then demand that these voters PROVE to them that they aren't racist. These "prove it' challenges are absurd and are just the most self-righteous, self-satisfying and self-defeating tactic imaginable. The natural, normal, human response for any person exposed to a vapid challenge like that is to take the opposing position against those accusing you. This is what is happening when "Springsteen voters" see and hear these social media rants, they simply shake their heads and think they made the right decision not so much voting for Trump, but voting against Clinton and those holier-than-thou haranguing asshats.
"VICTORIOUS WARRIORS WIN FIRST AND THEN GO TO WAR, WHILE DEFEATED WARRIORS GO TO WAR FIRST AND THEN SEEK TO WIN." - SUN TZU
In addition, these jeremiads play into every single stereotype that hardcore Trump voters have of liberals and democrats, namely that they are entitled, arrogant, selfish, whiny, know-it-alls. Seeing these rants gives these hardcore Trumpists a tremendous amount of joy, pleasure and satisfaction. These diatribes give aid and comfort to the people you want to defeat and also no shortage of ammunition to be used to keep those 77,000 Springsteen voters in the fold and Trump in power. With this in mind, these rants look less like rallying the base to action and more about a form of self-aggrandizing masturbation.
While these screeds may be a way for the individual ranters, especially the desperately thirsty, fame-whoring ones inhabiting Los Angeles, to try and raise their public profile and maybe even save their moribund careers by getting a job on a political tv show (The Daily Show...fingers crossed!! Better yet…Full Frontal with Samantha Bee!!! Girl Power!!!), they certainly aren't a way to strategically stop Trump and his minions from destroying all the things these ranters claim to hold dear. So stop with the selfish, transparent and desperate rants. Stop with the weak kneed emotionalism. Grow a pair of balls (and yes, I am a misogynist for saying that only people with testicles are tough, I am an evil minion of the patriarchy, you caught me Buttercup…again, just kidding!!), get up off the canvas, brush yourself off and get back in the ring. Except this time go into that ring thinking strategically, not emotionally, and maybe you won't get knocked on your ass again. Which brings us to...
"NEVER LET ANYONE OUTSIDE THE FAMILY KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING." - DON CORLEONE
"LET YOUR PLANS BE DARK AND IMPENETRABLE AS NIGHT, AND WHEN YOU MOVE FALL LIKE A THUNDERBOLT." - SUN TZU
Don Corleone said this to Sonny when he revealed to The Turk his surprise that the Tartaglias would guarantee the Corleone's investment in the drug trade. This seemingly minor error by Sonny led to the assassination attempt on Don Corleone, war amongst the five families, Sonny's death on the causeway, Michael's murder of the Turk and a police Captain, Michael's year in exile and the murder of his wife Appollonia, and eventually Michael settling all family business by killing all the family's enemies. In other words…if Sonny hadn't let someone outside the family know what he was thinking, then a whole lot of people wouldn't have been killed. The same applies to Clintonites and the election aftermath.
As I stated previously, the social media rants against Trump voters may feel good when your doing them, but they are terribly counterproductive. Emotionalists want to feel good in the moment, strategists want to succeed in the long run. So stop with the rants already. That said…just because you shouldn't let anyone outside the family know what your thinking, doesn't mean you shouldn't think it. You can think every Trump voter is racist all you want, even though it is obviously not true. I am not telling you what to think, I am telling you what to do and how to succeed. I also don't give a flying fuck how you feel. If you want to get angry or be hurt or upset, or if you are afraid, go ahead, just don't let your enemies know that is how you feel. Tie your courage to to the sticking post. Be rational, be reasonable, be logical, and be calm in front of your enemies and then plot to eviscerate them when the time is right.
In fact, I would tell you that instead of ranting on social media where everyone can see what you are thinking (or not-thinking as the case may be) or feeling and where you strengthen your enemies and weaken yourself…just set aside some time everyday to have a nice, private, little two minutes hate. If you have a friend with similar political leanings, call them once a day, or email them and only them, and rant for two minutes about how awful Trump or his voters are. Unleash all of your pent up hostility and rage during this two minutes. Spew forth all of the vitriol you can muster. That way you purge yourself of the emotionalism that cripples your arguments and you keep yourself sane and logical for the great fight ahead.
"THE WISE MUSICIANS ARE THOSE WHO PLAY WHAT THEY CAN MASTER." - DUKE ELLINGTON
"MOVE SWIFT AS THE WIND AND CLOSELY FORMED AS THE WOOD. ATTACK LIKE THE FIRE AND BE STILL AS THE MOUNTAIN." - SUN TZU
Another thing to strategically keep in mind regarding emotionalism is that emotion can be a valuable weapon in the hands of a master. The problem is that your opponent, Donald Trump, is a master of emotion. Trump is the archetypal trickster, and he can not only manipulate the emotions of his supporters to his benefit, but can manipulate his opponents emotions to his advantage as well. Trump masterfully plays democrats and the media to react the way he wants them to by pushing their emotional buttons. He tweets something outrageous in order to distract from a story he doesn't like (the flag burning nonsense), or he meets with Kanye West or something like that. Trump is constantly toying with democrats and the media like a cat with a mouse, and they become victims of their own emotionalism.
It is vitally important to remember this, in the battle for power, emotion is Trump's weapon, not yours. If you take Trump on, on emotional grounds, he will destroy you. You must take him on rationally, using unemotional language and arguments. Trump is a narcissist who desperately needs an emotional foil in order to maintain his self image. By not engaging him emotionally, and not reacting to his tweets or what he says, you neuter him. Without a foil, Trump flails about like a frantically drowning man. Trump needs an enemy to emotionally invigorate and engage him, if you do not give that to him, he spins out of control, then withers and dies. Emotionalism is Trump's power source, cold rationalism is his Kryptonite.
"ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS BUT NOT NEARLY AS OFTEN." - MARK TWAIN
So in order to weaken Trump you must ignore his tweets…all of them, no matter how infuriating they may be. Ignore every single word he says as well, no matter what. Ignore his neo-Nuremberg rallies and his playing to the crowd with his loaded language. You must understand that Trump's words are meaningless and are meant to make you react and not respond. Do not let him control you so easily. Instead, only respond, not react, to the things he actually does, never what he says. For instance, if Trump nominates people you dislike for cabinet positions, quietly plot to undermine them. Do not talk about them publicly, but conspire to dig up dirt on them and make their confirmation a living hell. Let Trump react to what you do, not the other way around. And when Trump reacts to you, ignore his reaction and keep on calmly working to undermine and destroy him.
"SO IN WAR, THE WAY IS TO AVOID WHAT IS STRONG, AND STRIKE AT WHAT IS WEAK." - SUN TZU
Also, Trump's great strength is in form and appearance as he is the penultimate improvisational showman, and his great weakness is detail, structure and function. So attack Trump's weakness, detail and function, with your strength, bureaucracy. What I mean by that is you must make Trump have to slog through the muck and mire, the monotonous and grueling process of actually governing. You can tie Trump up in knots over the process of writing minutely detailed and specific legislation and actually passing it. When you get outraged by his remarks, your distraction allows him to win on form instead of lose on function. If he says outrageous things, let them just float out there and let people make up their own minds. If the media asks a democrat what they think about the latest outrageous remark Trump has just made, they should respond, "I don't care what the President says, I care what he does."
And, I understand how difficult this tactic can be, when you hear the things that Trump says it can be downright infuriating because he means to infuriate you, but it is vital that you remember that in order to stop Trump, you must make him fight you on your ground, not his. The media will be of little help in this endeavor as they proved in the campaign by covering Trump's every rally and every word. The media want Trump in the spotlight because he is outrageous and unpredictable and outrageousness and unpredictability means ratings. So my advice in order to stay sane and be effective in opposition to Trump, is to never read Trump's twitter feed, and to never watch any cable news. I know this is where many people get their news…but I have bad news…cable news isn't news, it is infotainment. So read the newspaper for your news…but do not read the editorials. And avoid cable news like the plague, because it is a plague. You literally get dumber every second you watch cable news, regardless of the channel. Those networks are meant to make you think emotionally, not rationally, so don't let them derail your opposition to Trump. If you simply cannot function without television news, watch the BBC…with the sound off.
"KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE AND YOUR ENEMIES CLOSER." - MICHAEL CORLEONE
"I'M WATCHING YOU AND FIDEL CASTRO IN THE SAND. ASSASSIN!!" - SISTER HAVANA BY URGE OVERKILL
As I stated earlier, it is a physical and psychological human instinct to resist when pushed. Many martial arts teach students to overcome this instinct in order to gain an advantage in combat. For example, Judo and Aikido teach that when pushed you should pull and when pulled you should push. The idea behind this technique is that when someone pushes you and you pull them towards you, you are using their force against them by adding a small amount of your strength to it and knocking you opponent off balance. An opponent who is off balance is one that is not an immediate threat to you and one that is also vulnerable to your attack.
Which brings us to another key strategy to derail Trump which may seem counter-intuitive, but it is to embrace Trump on any and all economic issues you even remotely agree with him on. Embracing Trump will knock him off balance and will also play to his vanity, for God knows flattery will get you somewhere with Trump. An example of what I am talking about would have been to embrace the Carrier deal Trump made to "save" American jobs. Yes, I know that the deal is a total charade, but in order to beat Trump long term you must embrace him short term. So, emphasize how great it is that those 800 people still have jobs due to this deal, but then emphasize how much better the deal could have been and go to great lengths to talk about the other workers who are now left behind because of this deal and how much they will suffer. This is crucial because it means you flatter Trump and do not alienate the people whose jobs he has "saved", but you also ally yourself with people he has screwed who will obviously be more open to vote against him. By embracing Trump on economics, it will force him to occasionally search for a different enemy and Trump's need to find a foil might land squarely on Paul Ryan and the republicans. Trump always desperately needs an enemy and if you can make Paul Ryan and the establishment wing of the republican party his enemy, you make them fight each other and they end up weaker and you get stronger.
The union leader from Indiana who Trump attacked on twitter in the aftermath of the Carrier deal is a great example of how to handle Trump. This leader, Chuck Jones of the United Steelworkers, is a plain spoken, working class, midwestern guy…a Springsteen voter. When Trump personally attacked him on twitter he didn't get emotional, he just calmly stated his argument, which was correct by the way, and Trump was left with nothing to rage against. Trump backed down and shut up because Chuck Jones didn't get emotional, he got rational. This white working class guy gave an unintentional seminar on how to disarm and defeat Trump…I hope democrats were paying attention.
History and recent news have given us an example of how not embracing your enemies can be counterproductive. Last month Fidel Castro died in Havana. Whatever you think of Castro, it is pretty remarkable that he stayed in power for nearly sixty years while the greatest super power on the earth just 90 miles away actively tried to kill him. The reason Castro was able to stay in power was because he gained strength in resistance to the U.S. If they U.S. had been less adversarial with him, and had embraced him even a little bit, Castro would not have been able to maintain his grip on Cuba. Castro was strengthened by the unilateral opposition to him by the U.S. just like Trump will be strengthened by unilateral opposition by democrats.
"OPPORTUNITIES MULTIPLY AS THEY ARE SEIZED." - SUN TZU
Another strategy that is very Machiavellian but would be vital to eroding Trump's support, would be to embrace guns and the second amendment. I totally understand that most democrats dislike guns, I get it. But you need to think of two things in regards to guns and your political positions. The first is that Donald Trump, a man you fear and loathe, is President and has all the power of the federal government at his disposal. Many democrats and liberals are worried about people being rounded up and put in camps and all sorts of tyrannical things like that. Well, if you are afraid of President Trump and the unimaginable power he wields, it might be a good time to embrace the second amendment and arm yourself in case things get as scary as you imagine they might. If you look at it rationally, the second amendment was designed for people like you who fear the potential tyranny of President Trump. Secondly, as much as democrats dislike and oppose guns, the reality is that even after the atrocious massacre of children at Newtown/Sandy Hook, nothing has changed. Democrats have lost the argument and guns aren't going anywhere. The democrats would be wise to accept this fact and use it to their strategic advantage.
What advantage would democrats gain by embracing guns? Well, those 77,000 Spingsteen voters are from rural, hunting states and they live in the gun culture. Guns are a wedge issue used to make Springsteen voters occasionally vote against their economic interests. If you remove the wedge issue of guns, you have taken a very valuable weapon out of the hands of your enemies. It would be very wise to do so in order to weaken your opponents and strengthen yourself.
"WHEN THE ENEMY IS RELAXED, MAKE THEM TOIL. WHEN FULL, STARVE THEM. WHEN SETTLED, MAKE THEM MOVE." - SUN TZU
Attacking Trump would seemingly be an easy task as he is a target rich environment, but the opposite is actually true. Effectively attacking Trump, and that is the key, to effectively attack him rather than just attack him, will take great skill and patience. Here are some basics traps to avoid. First off, do not attack Trump by calling him stupid. Just as Hillary supporters took her loss personally, so will Trump supporters take attacks on him personally, specifically the ones calling him dumb. Even those marginal Springsteen voters will be roused by attacks on Trump's intelligence because they already feel that democrats speak down to them, whereas Trump speaks their language. Attacks on Trump that call him stupid will have the reverse effect that the attacker intends, as it will strengthen Trump and weaken the attacker.
Another thing to consider is that attacking Trump as dumb is more about shadow projection by liberals than it is about his actual intellect. If you look at the last forty years or so a pattern emerges where the attacks by each political party take on a psychological consistency. Liberals called Reagan, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and now Trump, stupid. For liberals, intelligence is a highly regarded value, and obviously the shadow of intelligence is stupidity. So for liberals the fear of their being perceived as dumb lurks in their shadow, and they project that negative/shadow attribute onto their opponents. Republicans/conservatives do the same thing with their own shadow projections. Republicans value purity and strength and so their shadow values/fears are impurity and weakness. Both Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama were believed to be "unworthy" and illegitimate presidents by republicans, the most glaring example being the birther nonsense. Obama and Bill Clinton were also thought of as "weak" by republicans. Shadow projections are ineffective weapons of attack because they only ring true for those doing the projecting and not those without the same hierarchical values and beliefs. So while it seems like a great line of attack, it is really more a sign of weakness than strength and will only harm the attacker.
Along the same lines it is essential that democrats never attack Trump voters. Hillary's "deplorables" comment played well with Trump's base but it also greatly offended those marginal Springsteen voters which was a fatal error. Attacking Trump is tricky business, but attacking his supporters is down right political suicide. As I said previously, you can think what you want about these people, but just don't think it out loud.
"APPEAR WEAK WHEN YOU ARE STRONG, AND STRONG WHEN YOU ARE WEAK." - SUN TZU
Another trap to avoid is the sirens call of victimhood and using it as a weapon against Trump. Trump will offend a lot of people with the things he says and there will be no shortage of victims of his thoughtlessness and bullying. That said, it is important to understand the historical wave and time we live in. This is the time of the archetypal "strong man". Across the globe strong men and nationalists are taking power. In order to stop them one must understand the archetypes that resonate in the collective at this time and be able to manipulate them to your advantage.
The collective is attracted to "strength" at the moment. This sort of "strength" is not a physical, spiritual or even moral strength, rather it is the outward appearance of strength which masks the inner toxic combination of blindness, paranoia and insecurity. It hasn't always been this way and it won't always be this way, but it is this way now…which is how we got Trump (and Putin, and Erdogan and Duterte etc.). According to social scientist Jonathon Haidt, liberals are usually motivated by the moral values of care/fairness, which is often translated into equality, diversity and protecting the weakest members of society. In recent years this has morphed into a sort of elevation of status for the victim in liberal circles. So as victimhood has become status, power has been translated into the negative archetype of the bully. Well, the world and the collective unconscious has changed and the status of victimhood no longer resonates across the broader population, only among liberals. In order to effectively attack Trump and win over marginal voters (Springsteen voters), it is vital to not embrace victimhood but to embrace "strength". Chuck Jones of the United Steelworkers embraced strength in his confrontation with Trump. Those calling Trump a racist, misogynist, sexist or xenophobe are unconsciously embracing the archetype of the victim and victimhood. And I am not arguing Trump isn't a racist, misogynist, sexist, xenophobe, what I am arguing is that calling him those things is an ineffective way to attack him according to the present historical wave and the archetypes currently resonating in the collective. As Bin Laden once said, if you show a person a strong horse and a weak one, they will choose the strong one…and so it is in our time. This is also why it is vital not to share your hurt or anger or fear to Trump or his supporters, because showing those things is a sign of weakness, not strength, and now is the time of strength.
"HE WHO IS PRUDENT AND LIES IN WAIT FOR AN ENEMY WHO IS NOT, WILL BE VICTORIOUS." - SUN TZU
This leads us to the discussion about identity politics which has come to the forefront lately. After my post-election piece, Mark Lilla wrote a similar, much talked about piece in the New York Times arguing the same thing I did. The identity politics argument seems to have veered off into a strange cul-de-sac of misunderstanding and emotion that does neither side any good. What I mean by that is both sides seem to be arguing past each other and neither seems to be making any ground.
The issue that I need to make clear which I may not have in my previous piece is this, that if you stop making arguments about identity and start making them about class, that does not mean that you have abandoned minorities. My argument is that identity politics has come to exclude white, working class people whereas class politics includes not only those white, working class people but minorities of all kinds who fall under the "identity" politics umbrella. Black, White, Latino, Asian, Native-American, gay, straight, transgender and every other identity imaginable falls into the poor and working class denomination. Focusing on economic issues and not identity issues doesn't reduce your potential base, it expands it.
Another reason to focus on economics and class as opposed to identity is that identity politics very often falls into the trap of victimhood politics. I am not saying the minorities of all types aren't victimized, but being victimized and embracing victimhood are two very different things. Once you understand the historical wave we are on, it is easy to see that the best way to protect the victimized regardless of their identity, is to embrace the politics of economics and strength. The politics of identity (which can morph into victimhood), has been successful in the past, but will fail at this time because of the historical wave we are on and the inability of Trump to feel shame. To be effective today, identity (and victimhood) must be jettisoned and economic class and strength must be championed. So if Trump attacks someone or some group of people, the most effective way to counter that is not to call him racist or homophobic or hater or whatever term may very well apply, but to not reveal any upset at all and to stay strong and focus on Trump's actions, not his words. This will make him look weak, and make you look strong. Make the rational, unemotional argument based on facts against Trump, ignore what he says and he will back down. Make a plea based on victimhood or weakness and he will double down and he will rally potential democratic allies to his side. Calling someone a racist or misogynist or whatever is meant to shame them, but shaming Trump is impossible because he is shameless. So you may feel righteous in calling Trump those names, but your attacks will not only be ineffective as he is immune to shame, but will also boomerang back upon you, making you weaker.
A final note about identity politics. In an article in the New York Times recently Cornell Belcher argues that focusing on the dying demographic of white working class people is foolish. Belcher claims we should disregard white, working class voters and instead focus on the Obama coalition and getting those younger, non-white voters to the polls. It is not surprising that Belcher was so terribly and arrogantly wrong about the last election and he is just as wrong about the next one as well. The most important thing about the Obama coalition is not the coalition of young, Black and Latino voters, the most important thing about the Obama coalition is Barrack Obama. Obama is a once in a generation or maybe lifetime political talent. If you think his coalition is coming together for anyone else, you are very mistaken. And I have bad news for you, Barrack Obama is not walking through that door. Going forward you are going to have to deal with second rate political hacks like Hillary Clinton, and she didn't get the Obama coalition to rock the vote. Someone ought to buy Cornell Belcher a calendar for Christmas, since he fails to understand that while white working class voters are a dying breed, they ain't nearly dead yet. Their projected year of death is 2050…another 34 years from now. 34 years is a long time to sit around waiting for the demographics to change so you can get another shot at the throne.
I think that the wisest course forward is to build a broad based political coalition based on economics and class. Democrats must turn their backs on Wall Street, corporate interests, free trade and globalization and turn their focus back to working class people and the poor. Trump won by using an old school, democratic, populist economic message. There is no doubt Trump will completely ignore that economic message as president, so democrats must be there with a genuine form of populism in order to remove Trump from power. If they fail to embrace this economic populism and class warfare, the democrats will be left in the dust.
"THUS THE EXPERT IN BATTLE MOVES THE ENEMY, AND IS NOT MOVED BY HIM." - SUN TZU
One last thing that liberals must do going forward is both a defensive and an offensive move simultaneously, and that is to completely embrace the constitution. Rigidly embracing the constitution is a way to protect yourselves from the potential tyranny of a Trump presidency, and also a way to attack Trump and criminalize him and his actions. Embracing the constitution means that democrats must stop talking about fake news and ways to fix or stop it. Talk of shutting down conspiracy websites or fake news sites is detrimental to the long term strategy of stopping, or at least containing, Trump. Liberals need to embrace not only the first amendment without hesitation or qualifiers, but also Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, Chelsea/Bradley Manning and all of the other whistleblowers (and convince Obama to pardon them all including Snowden, Manning and Assange before he leaves office), for they will be pivotal weapons in the battle against Trump (a strong renunciation of Obama's war on whistleblowers is urgently needed now as well). The reality is that if you only want to embrace the first amendment some of the time, or when it is convenient to you, then it will not only be an ineffective tool against Trump but he will turn it around and use it as a weapon against you. As I already stated, embracing the second amendment is vital as well for not only self-protection but for political purposes. The constitution is all that stands between you and the darker instincts of President Donald Trump. The restraints the constitution can place on Trump will be the only thing that will stop him from exacting revenge on his domestic enemies…namely YOU...and he will most certainly try to do that. If you try and mess with any part of the constitution, whether it be the first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth or any other amendments, the rest of it will be useless in protecting you from Trump…including the twenty-second amendment which limits him to two terms in office. Ponder that for a moment.
The final point I will make to you is this...I know this story circulating lately about Russia interfering with the election in Trump's favor is tantalizing, but please do not embrace it. I am telling you, the more you want a story to be true the more skeptical you should be of it. This "Russia hacked our election" story, or the more recent version of it where Vladimir Putin himself is actually personally involved, is fools gold. These stories being breathlessly reported by the establishment media are all based on unnamed official sources. Please just wait until there is actual, tangible evidence put forth, and even then be very, very skeptical. This whole Russia hacking episode reeks of the wishful thinking that was going around (especially in establishment media circles) in the build up to the Iraq war. There was no evidence then either, but people wanted those stories to be true so they gave them the benefit of the doubt. This Russia story is even less credible at the moment and even more dangerous. Russia is a nuclear power. The deep state and neo-cons are determined to have a war with Russia, we've actually been in a limited war (propaganda, economic, political war) with them for the last bunch of years. Do not fall for this Russia story trap. Don't do it, one way or another you will live to regret it. I promise you that.
And thus concludes my not so brief handbook on how to survive the era of Trump. I realize that most of the people who already disliked me for my pre and post-election pieces will have already chalked this piece up to just one more bit of mansplainin' by a deplorable straight, white male, but these things happen. I do not expect the hapless democrats to follow my handbook at all, and they are off to a really shitty start with the re-election of Nancy Peolosi as leader of the house democrats. Pelosi's victory is a strong sign that democrats would rather double down on the same insanity, with insanity being defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, that got them here rather than learn anything and adapt going forward. But hey, just like with the election, you can't say I didn't warn you.
"YOUR SPIRIT IS THE TRUE SHIELD." - MORIHEI UESHIBA, THE ART OF PEACE