Thursday, January 26, 2017

Trump’s Errant Mouth and What to Do About it

The motive for Trump’s unending stream of blatant falsehoods is obscure.  It might be mental illness, or maybe it’s a Schelling-style hostage strategy in response to principal-agent issues in his administration.  I don’t know.  What matters most, however, is how the rest of us respond to it.

The losing strategy was artfully employed by Hilary Clinton: paint the Donald as abnormal, a caveman outside the normal bounds of respectable politics.  Even if it works—and as we saw it can fail in the face of competing narratives—it has a limited objective, taking down this one man.  A better approach would be to craft a straightforward and honest narrative that links Trump’s crass dishonesty to his political goals.

I’d go for the most basic version: Trump’s real plan is to enrich the wealthiest people in the country and allow the continued fleecing of the vast majority through deregulation, deunionization and defunding the public watchdog.  If he were open about this he wouldn’t be able to get to first base.  So he has to lie constantly, creating a fictitious parallel universe in which exploitation can be decked out as a crusade for justice.

Repeat this at every opportunity.  The army of the Right wants an America hardly any Americans actually want, so they have to lie.  They can do it with magic asterisks like Paul Ryan or whoppers about millions of hidden fraudulent voters, but the one thing they can’t do is tell the truth.


Lord said...

I also see it as a way to divert his opponents into dead ends, keeping them away from discussing policy and plans. I don't think he has to hide enriching the rich though. Republicans believe in this without question as how the world does and should work, with the only implication of which rich.

doncastro said...

Trump's real plan? And not also the plan of the Republican Party since at least 1980? Anyone living outside the castle walls who supports Trump and the Republican agenda is self-destructive. said...

Two points.

One is that he tells so many lies one cannot keep track of them. We saw this in the campaign. He got away with all kinds of outrageous statements and behavior because the minute people would start to get all shocked over one thing,wow, there would be another. After awhile one just gives up and stops going on about any particular lie or wild statement,so he gets away with it.

The other, being pointed out by several people now, is a sort of hazing of his staff to make them prove they are his and his alone. He makes them publicly and blatantly lie, thereby diminishing the respect anybody has for them and putting them in his power. This is sort of like the business of cults or even broader religions, which are often defined by some weird thing they demand that followers do or believe (e.g. the woolen underclothing worn by Mormom mem, or the belief in predestination by Presbyterians). To really be part of the in-group you have to go along with this weird and or embarrassing thing that outsiders think is koo-koo, but it makes you credible to be part of the in-group of the cult or sect.

This is consistent with the authoritarian impulse in Trump, to have staff who are personally loyal to him, not to the GOP or any other outside group or person. They will go along with anything.

Bruce Wilder said...

Your rhetorical strategy can only work with and for a left-of-centre party quite different from the one we actually have.