He’s Like Erdogan
Aardvark is pleased to share the astute observations of Freda Foxy, retired political scientist and fellow denizen of Happy Acres. Professor Foxy writes,
My analysis of Trump’s support is that the upper class is using populist appeals to lower-income groups in order to weaken the middle class, the class that traditionally supports democracy.
I know this is happening in Turkey. The upper class, represented by Erdogan, has formed an alliance with the poor by building them needed housing. The objective is to get the lower class, with its large numbers, to help do away with a free press and fair elections, elements of democracy that Turkey’s upper class allowed when they thought it would enable Turkey to get into the European Union, with all the economic benefits that would have brought them.
In an alliance of upper and lower classes, you know which class is dominant and in whose interest the alliance is operating. I think a similar alliance is happening not only in the U.S. but in Hungary and elsewhere.
Democracy developed in stages as successive layers of people below the rulers pressured them for it. The upper class historically resisted sharing power with people below them, often successfully, e.g. in Russia, the Tsar defeated the country’s nobles in the uprising that was comparable to the English uprising that wrested the Magna Carta from King John.
In the U.S., we have “bad” billionaires supporting Trump who is giving low-income people what he tells them they need, while implementing policies that are very harmful to them. This is not to deny that Trump got help from Putin, who is also using nationalism and other populist appeals to roll back the steps toward democracy that occurred in Russia in the immediate post-communist period.
One could extrapolate from the situation in which the U.S. finds itself that the Democrats missed their chance to tie the poor to democracy through benefits like health care for all, free public college education etc.
He’s Like Elizabeth Holmes, Business Bamboozler Extraordinaire
In Grifters Gone Wild, Maureen Dowd writes,
Elizabeth Holmes shot to fame as the youngest female self-made billionaire after she dropped out of Stanford at 19 and then founded the company that became Theranos. She claimed to have created an easier, cheaper way to do blood tests, just by pricking a finger, but then it turned out she was a literal bloodsucker, defrauding investors of $700 million on a nonexistent technology.
As Maria Konnikova wrote in her book, “The Confidence Game,” “The whirlwind advance of technology heralds a new golden age of the grift. Cons thrive in times of transition and fast change” when we are losing the old ways and open to the unexpected.
We are easy marks for faux Nigerian princes now, when chaos rules, the American identity wobbles, and technology is transforming our lives in awe-inspiring and awful ways.
Trump voters allowed themselves to believe they had a successful billionaire who knew the art of the deal when he only knew the art of the con. They bought his seductive campaign narrative, that the system was rigged and corrupt and only he could fix it. After winning by warning voters they were being suckered, he’s made them all suckers.
And Charles Blow draws yet another apt comparison:
The racism has become almost routine. Now it is the continued revelations of the degree to which Trump takes the presidency as a giant game, in which he is all-powerful, in which supplicants must come pleading, in which he has an unmatched ability to retain power by manipulating and deceiving the populace.
It’s like he’s playing the role of the Wizard of Oz, only this man is a weasel.