Former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld announced today he is running for president against Donald Trump, hoping to secure the Republican nomination.
Every dictator throughout history has cast himself and his supporters as victims. Oppressors aren’t sympathetic figures, but the oppressed are. So are saviors.
For Hitler, it was the Jews and others that failed to live up to the Nazi regime’s manufactured Aryan ideal. For Lenin, Stalin, and their successors it was the somewhat vaguely defined bourgeoisie that led the parade of enemies of the state invented by Soviet leaders. If we reach back to the rise of the Caesars we find wealthy and powerful men like Julius and Augustus Caesar portraying themselves as victims, as the common man struggles against a corrupt elite that wishes to hold them down.
Occasionally there might be some small slice of truth to the grievances that those grasping for power exploit to win popular support. But even legitimate complaints become exaggerated examples of oppression in the end. Regardless, having gained complete or near complete power, one would think these strongmen would be able to impose stability rather than perpetually calling out that they are victims. But true resolution eliminates the possibility of keeping an enemy handy that they can readily blame. For strongmen avoiding accountability is paramount.
Donald Trump, for all his authoritarian tendencies, is not Adolf Hitler. Even Vladimir Putin, a man who has been known to both assassinate and imprison his opponents, does not come close to that scale. That said, these men are no lovers of democracy and are skilled at manufacturing victims and threats of both the exaggerated and fake variety.
Authoritarians are not interested in making the trains run on time. Authoritarians derail the trains, blame the derailment on some group or another that they know a significant portion of the population is already suspicious of or despises, paint themselves as victims, then take credit for fixing the problem after workers have repaired the tracks and restored things to the way they were before the derailment. We actually saw this pattern in Trump’s dealings with North Korea, and will likely see it attempted again at some point soon in the case of immigration and border security. Indeed, Trump has set himself up beautifully to use this technique on a variety of issues in the coming months.
The case of North Korea is worth going into in some detail in order to demonstrate just how authoritarians go about manufacturing a problem in order to “solve” it. The so-called crisis on the Korean Peninsula has been slowly unfolding for generations. Had there been anything like an easy solution for it, it would have been solved decades ago.
But the fact of the matter is that even before North Korea acquired nuclear weapons it had thousands of conventional artillery pieces aimed at the heart of Seoul. Any effort to deal with the situation militarily would have, even under the best-case scenario, ended up with hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded on both sides of the 38th parallel, followed shortly thereafter by a massive humanitarian crisis. It was for this reason that sanctions were widely considered the safest way to apply pressure. Obviously, sanctions didn’t prevent North Korea from eventually developing nuclear weapons. But that doesn’t mean we should have sent in the army or dropped a bunch of nukes on them ourselves while we still had the chance. Some problems just don’t have good or obvious solutions.
North Korea’s long history of provocative words and actions have always been greeted by presidents from both political parties with either stern but diplomatic rebukes – sometimes followed by additional sanctions – or silence. Trump broke this pattern when he began responding with bellicose rhetoric of his own. As both sides began exchanging more and more heated words, a previously unthinkable US military response suddenly appeared thinkable. At that point, Trump had his crisis. All that remained was to extinguish the fuse that he had lit.
So, Trump signaled a willingness to talk and eventually agreed to a summit. In Singapore and in comments he has made since the president has practically embraced Kim Jong Un. The North Korean dictator has effectively been welcomed, at least for now, into Trump’s club of respected dictators. The president has declared complete denuclearization to be only a matter of time and claimed that thanks to his talent as a dealmaker the nuclear threat has passed. The fact that not a single nuclear weapon has been given up or that Kim Jong Un has so far refused to even disclose how many weapons he has hasn’t in the least diminished Trump’s assessment of the North Korean dictator or his conviction that he’s reached a peaceful resolution to the “crisis.” Problem solved.
Likewise, the current administration has manufactured a crisis along the border with Mexico. The number of undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border of the United States was at or near their lowest level in recent memory when Trump imposed his so-called “zero tolerance policy” and began separating children from their parents as they came into the United States. But that the number of undocumented immigrants entering the US had been dropping for years is an inconvenient fact if you’re trying to demonize the people seeking a better life in America. That said, we can be reasonably confident that soon Trump will recognize the lower number of people crossing the border and begin to take credit for it. At that point, he will tell us that the undocumented immigrant “crisis” has been “solved.” As proof, he will direct our attention to statistics that are merely the latest data point along a trend line that began dropping dramatically long before his administration.
By describing every problem as an emergency, authoritarians are able to create and maintain the siege mentality so vital to their efforts to hold onto sufficient public support. The policy of every authoritarian government is to create disruption, paint themselves as victims, and blame it upon a group that people can readily identify as outsiders. For this reason, those of us opposing the rise of authoritarianism must remain clear and consistent when it comes to the language we use to describe the manufactured crises men like Trump and Putin will continue to generate as they pursue their quest for greater power.
Families fleeing extreme poverty and violence in Central America do not represent either an economic or existential threat to the United States. Any differences we have with our NATO allies are small and do not justify the efforts currently underway to destabilize the alliance. Automation has historically had a far greater negative impact on manufacturing jobs than trade agreements. Burdening the world economy with tariffs because the president argues that even a slight trade imbalance with another country is an indication America has been “taken advantage of” will not only fail to change that reality but will ultimately make the problem worse.
There’s a reason that every problem wasn’t a grave emergency under previous presidents. None of them were primarily in the business of marketing fear. If America really is “the home of the brave”, instead of hitting the panic button every time Donald Trump says there’s a crisis we should be telling him to give it a rest.
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By Dane Larsen | @therealdanelars | United States of America
“The long experiment with professional politicians and professional government is over, and it failed.” -Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House.
In 1947, Congress proposed the 22nd amendment to the US Constitution: an act to place term limits on the President. Specifically, it forbid a president from serving more than two full terms, or a maximum of ten years. This came shortly after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt served four consecutive terms in office.The reasoning behind this piece of legislation was to keep the head member of the executive branch of government from becoming corrupt, or sustaining corruption. For, as we escaped from in 1776 with the British Monarchy, if one person stays in power for too long, it gets to their heads.
In an experiment by student Andy Yap of Columbia University, over 100 people were shown pictures of others surveyed. Yap was able to get them to believe the 99 people seen in pictures were shorter than themselves (for the most part). There is in fact a correlation between a taller height and a higher position of power as seen in the Fortune 500 CEO’s, where the average height is 6 ft, 2 in. This figure is 4.5 inches taller than the average US men’s height (5’9½”). Point is, that there is a trend of people who may actually have power, or perceive that they have power, with a taller height. The fact that the people thought they were taller than the others after being persuaded into a position of power, shows that power corrupts the brain.
Staying in power for too long has proven to change the mindset of the person in question, and will do it again in the future, given the opportunity. Thus, 76% of America, according to a 2013 Gallup poll, is asking an important question. Why have we not implemented legislative term limits? It seems rather foolish to limit the President, but allow Congress to serve endless terms.
This past year, citizens of Michigan’s thirteenth district were surprised when Rep. John Conyers announced his immediate retirement. He was 88 years old, and served for 52 years on Capitol Hill without term limits. To give you a bit of perspective, in 1966, when he took office for his first term, Startrek was just debuting, Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys was released, and the US was one year deep into their mission in Vietnam.
With only a 15% approval rating, our congressmen and congresswomen have proven to do next to nothing with their time in their positions. These people sign themselves into their own salaries, their own day-to-day agendas, and eventually, if the legislation were to make it that far, they’d be voting on limiting their own power. It’s ludicrous to think that these people would restrict how long they could make empty promises to their supporters, and put on a bright, big smile for the cameras.
“It is a popular delusion that the government wastes vast amounts of money through inefficiency and sloth. Enormous effort and elaborate planning are required to waste this much money.” -PJ O’Rourke, political satirist and journalist, CATO institute.
There are, however, a few lawmakers with our best interests in mind. People like the Florida chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus, Ben Sasse (R- NE), Thom Tillis (R- NC), David Perdue (R- GA), and many more advocate for term limits. Though they may not get the press that other people in Washington may get, I encourage you to read more up on them, to support them to bringing progress back to Congress.
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Greg Stephen | USA
The GOP’s new tax bill is -quite arguably- a massive success so far, but what exactly IS this attempt at tax reform anyways, what is its end goal, and what is it doing wrong? Is it just one big malicious attempt by corrupt and crony Republicans at allowing the evil capitalist CEO overlords to exploit the masses?
Quickly put, the answer to that last question is one big fat no. The tax bill isn’t meant to just help the rich and wealthy, even though at first glance it may seem like it. The theory is called trickle-down economics, or Reaganomics (after President Ronald Reagan who was president during the first time this theory was implemented in American economics), and you may have been hearing these terms quite frequently over the past few weeks. You also may have been hearing that this theory has never worked for the people before (which history most vehemently disagrees with, see the Reagan era), or simply cannot work in modern times due to a different economic “landscape”, as you could put it. What this theory truly is is that through tax cuts for wealthy CEOs, these heads of corporations would have more money to spend on their businesses, and in turn increase wages and boost the economy.
After this bill passing through the Legislative Branch, Democrats alongside fiscal liberals of all kinds are completely losing it. Fiscal leftists have the idea that these CEOs will use the money, of which they are now not being forced to pay to the government with the threat of being locked in a cell if they don’t comply, to simply buy things for themselves. This, however, would be very counterintuitive considering that they could make even more money if they pooled their newly found savings into growing their business and then making even more money. A few questions for those who believe this: if these CEOs are so greedy and money-hungry, why would they pass up a chance at growing their businesses and making more money? Also, why wouldn’t these CEOs give their workers higher wages and better working conditions if other companies are doing this, which they in fact now are, thus minimizing the risk of losing their workforce to competitors?
So far, just like during the Reagan era, everything is going according to plan. Dozens of large companies, for instance, AT&T and Comcast among many others, have been increasing wages and making working conditions better for their workforce, thus giving these workers more buying power while spending on other businesses themselves and in essence stimulating the economy by, and to say the absolute very least, a lot. However, is this really as far as we can go?
Sure, this is a great leap in the right direction as well as surefire, objective proof that reducing taxes on the wealthy is a good idea in not only theory but in practice, but what else could we do? One looming threat that, even in success, this tax cut poses is that it can and will increase our national debt. What one option that’s most certainly on the table (and mind you, one that can and will increase liberty) is to cut spending. You know, that thing that House and Senate Republicans always say they’re going to do, but never really do it? The survival of the new GOP tax reform bill may be just enough incentive for the Republican Party to truly follow through on all of their economic promises. If the Trump administration, alongside GOP representatives and senators, really do want to secure their seats and positions of power in the coming elections in 2018 and 2020, then they need to truly live up to their titles as fiscal conservatives and cut reckless and needless spending across the board. If they do this, then we could possibly see even more economically beneficial tax cuts down the line during the Trump presidency.
For instance, why just cut taxes on the wealthy? Why not cut income taxes for not only CEOs, but lower and middle-class workers, alongside cutting needless and reckless spending on unnecessary programs? The benefits here would be countless, most importantly increasing average citizen’s buying power, thus stimulating the economy even more so.
So, in conclusion, Trump’s newly passed trickle-down tax reform bill is, again, quite arguably one big success so far, but has two major issues; first of which being that without cutting spending the bill won’t last very long, second of which being that it’s a step in the right direction, but doesn’t maximize the full potential prosperity of a supply-side economic policy. For now, all we can really do is wait and hope that Republican senators and representatives will make the right decisions to maximise the capitalist potential of what this bill could start. Here’s to the GOP not screwing this huge chance at a true capitalist society up, and here’s to capitalism and the prosperity it can, and will, most indefinitely bring.