Donald Trump and The Republicans

October 2, 2o16

Donald Trump and The Republicans–A Puzzling Partnership and the Tragedy of American Politics

by Fareed Zakaria

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Fareed Zakaria writes a foreign affairs column for The Post. He is also the host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS and a contributing editor for The Atlantic

Donald Trump is a strange standard-bearer for Republicans. He espouses few of the party’s traditional positions and disavows most of its icons. Almost every important conservative publication — National Review, the Weekly Standard, Commentary — opposes him, as do most leading conservative pundits, from George Will to David Brooks to Bret Stephens. Of the five previous Republican nominees for president, three will not publicly affirm that they would vote for Trump and I would bet that a fourth (John McCain) will not in the privacy of the voting booth. And yet, amazingly, in polls, Trump has received around the same level of support from Republicans as previous GOP nominees — so far. The election might well hinge on one simple issue — whether Republicans prove to be rational or tribal.

Asia cannot understand how Republicans choose Trump to be Presidential Nominee

The last time so many Republican leaders defected was in 1964, and Barry Goldwater was wiped out in a landslide. But polarization is so intense in the United States today that a cardboard cutout with an “R” on it would get about 43 percent of the vote, and one with a “D” would get about the same.

For months now, many conservative intellectuals have hoped that the campaign would reveal that Trump was neither Republican nor qualified. It has, on several occasions, most recently at Monday’s debate. Public opinion polls showed that Hillary Clinton won by a huge margin. But when Republican and Republican-leaning likely voters were asked in an NBC News poll whether the debate had improved their opinion of Clinton, only 4 percent said yes. When the same group was asked whether it had worsened their impression of Trump, just 6 percent agreed. (Those numbers were 50 percent and 46 percent, respectively, among Democrats and Democratic-leaners.) Watching the same lopsided debate, people on both sides simply reaffirmed their pre-debate perspectives on the candidates.

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Hillary Clinton–Asia’s American President

These dynamics have reminded me of Jonathan Haidt’s seminal book, “The Righteous Mind.” Haidt, a social psychologist, used exhaustive evidence to explain that our political preferences are not the product of careful analytic reasoning. Instead, they spring from a combination of moral intuition (instinct) and a tribal affiliation with people who we believe share these instincts. We use reason, facts and analysis to affirm our gut decisions.

If you think this is true of other people and not you, consider the example of Peter Thiel, a billionaire technology entrepreneur and investor who co-founded PayPal and funded Facebook. He is an extremely intelligent and well-read person, with mostly libertarian views. He strongly supports Trump, for a truly bizarre reason. He asserts that Trump’s most significant statement during this campaign, revealing his worldview, was “to declare that government health care can work.” He quoted Trump praising the Scottish and Canadian systems — one a nationalized system, the other a single-payer network — as proof of his remarkable willingness to think heretically and challenge Republican dogmas about government.

[Donald Trump’s foundation of fakery]

Now, another interpretation of Trump’s remark would be that it was a stray comment, thrown off the top of his head, signifying almost nothing. Remember that Trump took five different positions on abortion in three days. NBC News calculates that he has changed his position 124 times on 20 major issues since the campaign began. In Monday’s debate, he took two contradictory positions on the “no first use” policy of nuclear weapons in 30 seconds. And most important, after that offhand reference, Trump backed down from his support for government health care, instead only reciting Republican orthodoxy about the evils of Obamacare.

So an intelligent libertarian has chosen to support a man whose main — and utterly consistent — public policy positions are anti-free trade and anti-immigration and who has promised to appoint socially conservative judges to the Supreme Court because he is convinced that Trump is actually a closet admirer of Britain’s nationalized health-care system. I cannot think of a better example of Haidt’s thesis that we come to a decision first and reason our way to it afterward.

Paul Ryan has managed similar acrobatics. Ryan is opposed to all of Trump’s major policy proposals — the wall, mass deportations, ending birthright citizenship, unilateral tariffs against China, renegotiating NAFTA, total opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership — and has even publicly condemned many of them. And yet, the speaker of the House says that Trump is his man.

The signs to look for are whether Trump is losing any support among Republicans. That would indicate that politics is about more than tribal loyalty to a team. It would be heartening on many levels. After all, democracy depends on the ability to look at evidence and argument, to use reason and judgment, and to take seriously our roles as citizens of a great republic.

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6 thoughts on “Donald Trump and The Republicans

  1. I read Jonathan Haidt’s work. Fareed Zakaria read Haidt’s work. I read it as an opportunity to understand others. He read it as a tool to attack. Back to the question… How does one knows one is in a BlackHole? Perhaps, both Zakaria and me are too deeply buried in our gut emotion? His is obsessed in his own rationality, and I am too obsessed into fuzzy call to love.

    In either case, Haidt’s work is seminal.
    Saw a Frontline documentary yesterday putting Trump’s and Hillary’s life back to back. It is enlightening for me to listen to a Hillary who has just graduated from Wesleyan. How she would be willing to pick up so much southern drool in the way she speaks tells me so much our inner compass could moth, especially in light of how she was changed by Martin Luther King Jr, and words about her work in the Watergate Investigation.

  2. The chaotic 2016 US presidential election has highlighted the defects of the US election system and the dysfunction of democracy. The inherent defects of the US election system cannot prevent a radical candidate like Trump to win the primary election. Democracy has to yield to populism when the party is hijacked by the radical politician. The email-gate of the Democratic National Committee revealed the black box of how party elites manipulated the presidential election, of how the party establishment and the DNC violated the neutrality principle by working with the Clinton campaign team to help the failed Secretary of State clinch the nomination.

    The 2016 presidential election has revealed that the special interest groups have hijacked the government and the US needs political reform. No matter who wins, we are seeing the failure of US democracy.

    Yes, I shall still go to the poll to vote, but not on either candidate. I shall only vote on the state and local propositions I deem important. Somehow I feel many Malaysians on this blog care more about who becoming the POTUS than most of us American do. No matter who wins, the same bureaucracy will go on. Same o’ shit all over.

  3. On last count 14 out of the 16 MSM are for Democrats. And by elections the rest are expected to join the right side. The never Obama Movement will be transformed into The Never The New President Movement. All this has to do with the general erosion of confidence in the ruling class on both sides of the divide.

  4. Quote:- “Yes, I shall still go to the poll to vote, but not on either candidate. I shall only vote on the state and local propositions I deem important”

    That’s your democratic prerogative of course.

    But let’s say one librarian in some library in the US were to think to himself or herself….I am not going to waste time and effort putting that misplaced book in the correct shelf because, so what, some other jerk is going to misplace it again anyway. Imagine if all librarians were to think that way, there’ll be thousands if not hundreds of thousands of misplaced library books.

    Why are the Singapore civil servants so efficient and well respected? Because each and every, (OK may 98%), of them do his or her job as best as required because they know that others will do the same.

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