Wednesday, September 30, 2015

We're Being Trumped

When I got home from work last night Libby had saved a chunk of a documentary for me to watch, "You've Been Trumped." She ran into it in progress, so we didn't see the beginning. Netflix to the rescue. I may add something to this after it arrives. But the main story was there. Donald Trump decides to build a golf course on the coast of Scotland. He sells the idea to the local politicians and to the government of Scotland as an economic engine. (Reminded me of our fetish, here in Chatham County, NC, for building "mega-sites" in the hopes of attracting industry, and the hell with the property owners who are affected.)

When Trump's engineers and equipment arrive they start nudging the folks who live in the vicinity, farmers and such, to move. The nudges involve subtle events such as crushing the water line to a man's house, removing another man's shed and fence, and fooling with the electricity. When these "hints" don't prevail, larger measures are enlisted. A huge berm is built around one man's home so that he finds himself in a bowl with no view, just huge earthen walls, surrounding his home. There was once a plain, sand dunes, a distance beach. The film is about these details, and the ultimately failing efforts of ordinary folks to manage to stop Mr. Trump.

But what struck me in this campaign season was this. In this film we see in something of a microcosm exactly what Mr. Trump's political policies would be like should he gain the power of the Presidency, and particularly should he have the support of the neo-fascists who now control the Congressional Republican Party behind him. Mr. Trump believes in power. He's just fine with bullying and strong-arming and probably much worse. He really is fine with rounding up 12 million people who live and work here and putting them on trains and buses and military transport vehicles and hauling them off to... somewhere. He believes in the carrot and the stick, but he believes in the stick. The carrot is charm and bluster, the pleasure of at least telling off phonies like Jeb Bush and Rand Paul. Mr. Trump doesn't show the stick on the campaign trail.

And the worst part of "You've Been Trumped" is the way some Scots intellectuals accept his ruthless arguments. The little farms surrounding Mr. Trump's mega-site are "untidy." They'll look bad to the rich American tourists flying in to Aberdeen to golf weekends. Therefore, they must be bulldozed. This is what an economics professor at a local college (which has awarded Trump an honorary degree) says to the camera. Meanwhile, the local police arrest the camera-man for filming them early in the film. This is how fascism works. This is what Mr. Trump is selling, with the fresh paint still sticky, of "American greatness." Too many Americans seem to think that being great means knocking all opposition down. Smash mouth offense, to borrow a popular NFL term. He apologized to the world, these people whine about Mr. Obama's efforts to repair our relations with the world. America, they think, should never admit mistakes, should never apologize.

We'd do well to look at the final chapters of our last smash-mouth foreign policy efforts, now unfolding across the other half of the world. Iraq is in tatters. Syria becomes more jumbled with every day, and hundreds of thousands of refugees walk across Europe, with winter now on their heels. And in Afganistan, a significant city, Kunduz, has now fallen to the Taliban.

As someone on the teevee said the other day, Trump's method is always the same. Win, and then if necessary, declare bankruptcy and walk away. What does it mean, this comfortable solution, when he's President? It's not like he can pull a Sarah Palin and recoup with another book tour. The roads may not be working so well after he blows up the US government.

One of the sad and strange features of "You've Been Trumped" is the resonance of the little opposition. Around these parts we're mostly of the Scots-Irish descent. These bitter faces look familiar, and they even fly a Confederate flag once or twice, as a symbol of defiance. Yet here white Southerners are flocking to the Trump bandwagon. As ever, they like a winner, or a seeming winner, and don't want to even think about the possibility that they might be, themselves, standing across the line from some Trumpean bulldozer. But that's the real deal with Trump and his fascist methods. "I don't like losers," he says.

Someone should call him on that. If nothing else, the old Confederacy is certainly a band of losers.

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