Is the Rise of Donald Trump a Positive Development?

While this will be no surprise to those who have been reading my recent posts, I absolutely think that the success of the Trump candidacy has been a tremendously positive development in American politics in comparison to the status quo. He has exposed the hypocrisy and intellectual flabbiness of the Republican Establishment and shown to a large portion of its rank and file voters what a con game the New Right has played for the rest generation. He, with Sanders, has injected a badly needed populist direction and spirit in political discourse with the potential to drive to the polls millions of working-class/low-income voters who have been alienated from American public life. Over the past generation, the Washington-Wall Street-Silicon Valley axis has systematically gutted the livelihoods of millions of these Americans with their policies and attitudes of indifference resulting in permanent un- and underemployment, stagnant incomes and wages, devastated communities, rising death rates, and social alienation. Trump has shown them (in a way no Democratic politician has been successful at) the absurdity of them voting for neoliberal politicians who implement policies of austerity at home and endless foreign wars abroad all for the sake of a handful of cultural issues. As a result, Trump has made possible a discourse of protectionism, protecting the New Deal/Great Society legacy, and spending on domestic infrastructure instead of foreign adventure then would have been otherwise been simply dismissed as liberal rhetoric by many of these voters. True, the Trump campaign has also been bolstered by an extremely xenophobic platform of mass deportation of illegal immigrants and barring entry to foreign Muslims. But it isn’t as if, except for the use of more euphemistic language, Republican practice has been particularly divergent from the more realistic policies of Trump.

Regardless of whether Trump actually wins or loses the nomination, his success bodes well for Hillary Clinton (who let’s face will be the Democratic nominee for President in 2016 barring death or actual scandal). Trump’s victory probably ensures enough Establishment revolt and dissent as well as Hispanic backlash voting that Clinton can build on the Obama coalition to win by a decent margin in the Presidential race and for the Dems to retake the Senate. Trump doing well but losing the nomination-which would almost certainly require the nomination being stolen from him via corrupt bargaining amongst the Establishment-would similarly bring about a defection of a fairly large portion of the GOP’s working-class base (especially if-oh the joy!-if Trump mounts a Wallace-esque independent run) that would have similar benefits for Clinton and additionally in the long run function as a reverse Wallace where Trump acts as a halfway house for white working-class voters to return to the party of Roosevelt which in turn opens up fresh new possibilities in retaking the House and state governments.

Negative - in the same sense as discovering that your house has termites is negative. It is positive in the sense that it is good to know, but more negative because it would be better if there weren’t any termites at all.

Perhaps I should have emphasized this more but that’s why I qualified my OP by saying “in comparison to the status quo”-it certainly would be nice to have a world where Bernie Sanders had the support of 80 or 90% of Americans but that’s not the situation we are comparing the rise of Trump with.

I think it’s positive because it’s destroying the Republican Party.

Negative (and I’m left-leaking). I agree with most of what the OP says, BUT a presidential campaign (and a front-running nomination run) is more than just a mirror reflecting an existing ethos – it also actively contributes to that ethos, mainly by helping to more throughly legitimize it as something to be accepted, encouraged, and celebrated.

I don’t mean to Godwinize the thread, but an extreme example would be you-know-what. To instead see campaigns like this as mere mirrors of pre-existing sentiment would be to, unfairly IMO, indict millions of 1930s German citizens, to give just one example. I know that once the ball really got rolling, it was more about individuals fearing real consequences for speaking out, but before it got to that there was a period of legitimization from the top.

Please understand I’m NOT implying things will ever goet anything close to that bad in the current situation.

That’s always my first reaction, but after sober thought I think it’s bad, in the long run, for the Democratic Party to have such a juvenile, reality-denying, fear-driven opponent. Any political system needs at least two sane factions to debate important ideas and policies in good faith.

Don’t be ridiculous.

Positive, but only if he becomes president or if his run leads to a rise of right-wing populism that isn’t hijacked by corporate interests (doubtful). The hope is it would lead to an examination on the left of supporting candidates like Obama and Clinton, but it would probably just devolve into another round of Nader blaming. Except this time Bernie would be the target for souring the base by filling their heads with dreams of socialist rainbows.

Do tell. The Dems are closer to being destroyed. It’ll be a disaster if they don’t win the presidency, since the Pubs control everything else. Outside of a couple niche social issues like gay rights, the country has been going alarmingly right these last couple years. The left has no answer for the assault against labor or reproductive rights, the banks getting whatever they want, the expansion of gun rights, etc.

You say exposed, I say accelerated.

I voted negative from a liberal point of view. I think the answer really depends on how this all plays out. This article by George Will shows an interesting perspective.

I think the comments are actually more interesting than the article. It seems like a lot of people seem to believe that the country’s problems are due to both parties being corrupt. As a liberal I think those people are wrong, and that the real problem is that Democrats haven’t had the chance to pass progressive legislation due to Republican obstruction. The reason the Republicans can pull this off is because they are benefiting more from the both sides are the same crowd. If this group of voters can be shown the light by a Trump nomination with subsequent devastating Republican losses in the general election, that would be a good thing. I think this would finally let the Democrats show the rest of the country what can truly be done to help the nation with full Democratic control of the government. Unfortunately this is an unlikely outcome.

Positive. If being a straight talker who is an asshole and idiot can help you succeed in politics, imagine what intelligent straight talk could accomplish. Yet politicians still feel the need to bullshit.

I don’t agree with Qin that populism is a positive development. Populism tends to be the ugly side of politics, but it arises because the elite have failed and further have lied to the public and engaged in bait and switch tactics to make it seem like they are doing the right thing when they are not.

Usually this ends with the elites saying they’ve heard us loud and clear and actually addressing enough of the public’s concerns to stave off the populist revolt. Then they get comfortable again and entitled and resentful of the people and start acting up again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I think it’s very negative. He’s an embarrassment, even to people who support him.

And I say the real embarrassment is the political class. Without their failures, Donald Trump would have no traction.

We’ve seen a lot of populist movements rising up before Trump too: Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the Tea Party… All point to utter failure on the part of both parties. You just don’t see such influential and popular movements get traction when mainstream parties are doing their jobs.

More to the point, he’s exposing the hypocrisy and flabbiness of the modern American journalists. The only reason that his success is possible is because modern journalism encourages a “Loudest Asshole Wins” style of broadcasting. There was a time when journalists felt an obligation to take a serious approach to their newscasts. That’s been jettisoned in favor of loudmouths fighting about who’s your daddy.

Today’s journalists don’t ask serious questions or expect serious answers. Indeed, they’ve allowed themselves to be buffaloed into silence in the name of avoiding “gotcha” questions. They’ve been the chief promoters of the “two sides to every story” approach, even when one side is clearly composed of lobotomy patients worried about contrails. They’ve been shameless in allowing themselves to be used to promote the political of their station owners.

Trump is a problem - for Republicans, for Americans - but the people promoting him are the ones who’ve given him his power.

Probably bad?

The GOP does need a realignment away from the Gingrich doctrine. But it would have been better led by John McCain or Arnold Schwarzenegger than by Trump, if Trump thinks stoking this level of nationalist paranoia is the right path to power. Even if he’s doing it insincerely, it’s dangerous to encourage it this much.

That said, in his shoes I would be tempted to pull out this level of crazy, not because I believe in it or consider such policies wise, but just to expose how much racist crazy there is in the country, and see if exposure would create a backlash.

Trump the provocateur may force a realignment and reassessment of the conservative base, but at what cost? The damage done by McCarthyism still shapes this country sixty years on.

One Gulag prisoner to another:

“Okay, yes, this sucks. But just imagine how great things will be when we get a *benevolent *tyrant!”

Intelligence without assholery is getting to be a turnoff for media-raised Americans.

It’s a funny thing really: unintelligent people are pretty good at detecting intelligent thought, because it doesn’t stroke them or try to push their buttons. They just won’t call it intelligent.

Negative for the country. Not so much because he has any chance of becoming president, but because he further inflames bigots and haters. I am beginning to wonder what will happen when Hillary is elected, after Trump has incited such nativist hatred and political alienation. I think there is a real possibility of violent civil unrest. There is a significant percentage of conservatives at the boiling point, who will be convinced a Hillary win is justification for violent acts under the cover of rebelling against “tyranny”. I don’t think this will rise to the level of civil war, but there will be a lot of arson, bombings and shootings as the assholes vent their bitterness.

Yeah, but AFAICT the termites have been around for quite a while.

Agreed, but what we’ve had for several cycles now is a GOP that only pretends to debate in good faith. That goes back at least to Bob Dole’s decision in 1993 to block Clinton’s stab at universal health care at all costs.

Yeppers to all this. And I’m hoping that Trump and Cruz will be a line they can’t cross, that they won’t be able to pretend that either of these men have anything resembling rational goals and policies.

Sorry, but that’s not possible. :smiley:

(Seriously, there are probably hundreds of SDMB posters who, in Will’s position, could make a much better contribution to the national debate.)

I think its a positive. People are sick of the “business as usual” way that our government is running. Our country is deeply in debt and no matter what they say, they just continue to dig us into a deeper hole. We seem to run our government on policies of political correctness instead of solid, well thought out logical planning. Mr Trump may not be the answer we need but he is opening the door for people to think about other possibilities. I for one have had enough of career politicians whose main objective is to get re elected.