Thursday, May 5, 2016

Reflections on Trump

I just heard (props to C-Span radio) a bit of Trump's speech in Charleston, W.Va.  It was a series of disconnected assertions of the sort that typify his speeches: "we're going to win, win, win"; "we're going to negotiate great trade deals"; "we're going to have lots of people enter the country, but legally"; "we're going to bring back jobs"; "we're going to get rid of Common Core"; "we're going to repeal Obamacare"; "we're going to crush [or some similar verb] ISIS"; and, of course, "we're going to make America great again."  And he said to West Virginia miners: "get ready, you're going to be working your asses off [i.e., when Trump becomes President]." 

The slogan "we're going to make America great again" is empty without some conception of what makes a country great.  Does Trump have such a conception?  Would America be great if the coal industry were again engaged in large-scale strip mining and laying waste to the landscapes that Trump has probably never spent any time in?  Where does Trump stand on controls on emissions from coal-fired power plants?  How can one give a speech in West Virginia, a state whose economy is probably just as dependent on tourism as it is on coal (if not moreso) and not even nod in the direction of saying something about the state's physical beauty and natural attractions (if he did, it wasn't in the part of the speech I heard)?  Does Trump realize that climate change means that doing little or nothing to transition to non-fossil-fuel energy sources is signing a death warrant for future generations?

Instead of flying from New York to Charleston, giving a speech, and leaving, Trump should go to some small, depressed towns in southern West Virginia, for example in McDowell County, and he should talk to people who live there and actually know something about the region and the challenges facing those communities.  But that would require a degree of curiosity and openness to experience that Trump shows no evidence of possessing.  His entire career has been a matter of "winning" and attempting to advance the fortunes of Donald Trump.  Fans of Trump like to point out that as a businessman Trump has hired thousands of workers.  Who are they?  How are they treated and paid?  What is the turnover rate?  Are they going to vote for Trump?

A central question in this election is whether the way to "make America great again" is to hire as President a demagogic misogynist who embodies the worst aspects of a system that generates waste, inequality, and environmental destruction on a planetary scale.

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