Frankenstein’s Monster – I

He’s still the front-runner for the Republican Party nomination to become their candidate in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Logically he should have flamed out long ago, but Donald Trump continues to defy expectations.

Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_3_(cropped)

“Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore 3 (cropped)” by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_3_(cropped).jpg#/media/File:Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_3_(cropped).jpg

I will admit to being a bit surprised, not at his popularity but that the party establishment hasn’t managed to reign him in and promote more moderate candidates. That this has yet to happen would seem to indicate that they don’t know how to do it.

Trump is an American creation, born out of a frustration with the political elite. Rightly or wrongly, a large segment of American society feels disenfranchised by the politics of the past 30 years. They are fed up with the political class telling them what to think and believe. They are fed up with two parties that appear to put politics before service to the country. So they turn to an outsider, one who makes outrageous statements but listens to them and provides a voice to their alienation. (As I typed those words I realized that not only was I describing America in 2015 but Germany in 1933. Now that is scary.)

There are probably more differences than similarities between Weimar Germany and present-day America, but the overwhelming desire for change is probably the same, a realization that the status quo is no longer desirable. In such situations outsiders with a populist message find fertile ground. That much has not changed since the 1930s. Donald Trump’s success, such as it is so far, comes from his understanding of media and the times far more than his outrageous pronouncements.

In one outrageous statement after another Trump has shown that he is an entertainer with a keen understanding of the public angst of the day. He has also shown that he has a hazy understanding of American law – many of his proposals, as popular as they seem to be, are blatantly illegal. A recent example would be his plan to not allow Muslims, including returning U.S. Citizens, to cross American borders. No court would uphold that one.

I still can’t decide if Donald Trump takes himself seriously. To me there is the strong possibility that this is a giant reality show, one where the audience gets to participate. When an outrageous statement fails to dent his popularity and derail his campaign, Trump tries to come up with something even more incredible that will top it. His popularity remains undiminished.

But it is only December. At this stage no-one has been confronted with a ballot with Donald Trump’s name on it; no-one has been asked to live with the consequences of their vote. When it gets real the results may be quite different than what the polls show. (For speculation purposes, I ask you, how much of Trump’s “support” in the polls comes from Democrats who figure he would be the easiest candidate for their nominee to beat? The decline in polling methodology makes that quite possible in my estimation.)

There is also a need to put Trumps popularity in perspective. There are so many polls, and as I have said, as a political scientist I find much questionable methodology in the polling industry these days. But let’s take the latest poll, released Monday, which gave Trump his highest numbers ever.

The Monmouth University (a place I’ve never heard of, but maybe I’m in the minority) poll has Trump at 41% of Republican voters. To me the five per cent margin of error claimed seems a little low for a 385 voter poll – much too small for a national sample in my opinion.

Even if the numbers are accurate though, that means Trump has 41% of Republicans, who are about half of American voters. That means he has support of only about 20% of electors. Seems to me he has a long way to go yet.

Think about that today and we’ll talk more about The Donald tomorrow.

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4 comments

  1. […] Trump is an American creation, born out of a frustration with the political elite. Rightly or wrongly, a large segment of American society feels disenfranchised by the politics of the past 30 years. They are fed up with the political class telling them what to think and believe. They are fed up with two parties that appear to put politics before service to the country. So they turn to an outsider, one who makes outrageous statements but listens to them and provides a voice to their alienation. – December 15, 2015 […]

  2. Brad Darbyson · · Reply

    “Random Thoughts From Lorne” disparages Trump as “He has also shown that he has a hazy understanding of American law – many of his proposals, as popular as they seem to be, are blatantly illegal. A recent example would be his plan to not allow Muslims…”

    Contrary to ‘Random Thoughts’ assertions, Federal law and the courts have long given Congress and the president nearly unchecked power to bar foreigners from entering the country.

    “Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he deems necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens,” according to the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.

    Moreover, non-citizens who live outside the U.S. usually cannot invoke rights protected by the Constitution.

    After the initial public uproar, Trump quickly clarified that he did not mean to include U.S. citizens in the ban and was referring only to foreigners (despite assertion by Random Thoughts),

    For its part, the Supreme Court throughout history has steadily upheld the federal government’s so-called “plenary power” over immigration.

    In 1889, for example, the justices upheld the Chinese Exclusion Act, which kept out Chinese laborers and declared that the “power of exclusion of foreigners” was a “part of the sovereign powers delegated to” the federal government. That decision remains on the books.

    In June of this year, the high court upheld the State Department’s decision to deny a visa to the Afghan husband of a California woman. Fauzia Din, a U.S. citizen living in Fremont, was asking the court to require immigration officials to give a better explanation for why her husband’s visa was denied, but Justice Anthony Kennedy in a concurring opinion cited the government’s plenary or complete power to exclude immigrants and said the government’s reference to an anti-terrorism statue was sufficient.

    University of Chicago Law Professor Eric Posner said the “plenary power” doctrine is viewed with contempt by many lawyers, but because of legal precedents it has set, civil libertarians would face an uphill fight if they challenged a broad immigration ban in the Supreme Court.

    “If you take seriously the cases that have been decided in the past, they would find it constitutional,” he said of a Trump-like ban on Muslims. Though past restrictions have been based on race, nationality or political beliefs — not religion — Posner said he did not see that distinction as crucial.

    Random Thoughts “scary” yet unexplained comparison of 1933 Germany and Trump fail to mention FDR’s immigration restrictions and incarceration of enemy aliens and Jimmy Carter’s 1979 immigration restrictions on Iranians as well as his deportation of Iranian students.

    That such “scary” paradigms exist in the liberal mind is often a lifelong holdover from university days. The youthful idealism of today is outraged by National Security computers listening for words like “bomb” “gun” etc. on their telephone conversations – only the mature minority welcome this activity as an impersonal national security measure being only too happy to respond to police inquiries.

    Even as the conquest of Europe is virtually complete subject to the immigration of a 1400 year doctrine of barbarity, Canadian liberals applaud promoting such immigration.

    Those same liberals characterise Trump as a “monster” and “outsider” because of his logical security and immigration proposals – liberals resent any but career politicians proven to their collectives.

    ‘Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds’ is a recommended classic examining social attitudes of historical events.

    – Bradley R. Darbyson

    1. As originally reported Trump said he would ban all Muslims from entering the country, including returning US citizens. I still think Trumps proposal would be invalidated by the Supreme Court – but it is unlikely he will ever have the opportunity to implement it.

      I would suggest that history has not judged FDRs actions and inaction on immigration kindly. Just because you have the power to round up citizens doesn’t make it morally acceptable.

      1. 2 Men Linked To Paris Attacks Just Found In Most Terrifying Place Ever… Trump Is Right

        As the flood of Muslim refugees continues to flow into Europe, and even the United States, many people have voiced concerns about the possibility of radical jihadists hiding among the generally innocent and peaceful people.

        Even though the Islamic State group has openly stated its intent to use the refugee crisis as cover to infiltrate militants into Europe, there are still those who dismiss this worry out of hand.

        But the concerns have been proven to be valid, as yet again some individuals posing as Muslim refugees have been implicated in the terror attacks that rocked Paris in November, according to Reuters.

        Austrian officials recently announced the arrest at a refugee center in Salzburg of two men suspected of playing a role in the murderous assault.

        “Two people who arrived from the Middle East were arrested (over) the weekend (at an) accommodation for refugees on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization,” said Robert Holzleitner, spokesman for the Salzburg prosecutor’s office. “As part of the preliminary investigation, evidence suggesting a connection with the Paris attacks is being verified.”

        A local newspaper claimed that the men were believed to be of Algerian and Pakistani origin, and that they entered Europe through Greece bearing fake Syrian passports at the same time as other members of the group responsible for the attack.

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