Progressives, Trumplandia & Jon Stewart As A Leader Of The Resistance

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Since dirt, there has been a struggle for the heart of America when it comes to the Progressive movement. Just about twice century or so, the stars align just right and the Progressive movement pops out of a long-dormant state and pushes through a huge amount of much needed change.

The weird thing is, you could make the case that the rise of Trumplandia is a sign that maybe the Progressive movement may be about to have it’s time in the sun again. The issue is Donald Trump obvious tapped into a populist rage. A smart politician, one with some vision, could use the populist rage of Trumplandia as a stepping off point to energize the Populist movement.

Of course, it there wouldn’t be a straight line. You would need leadership and vision. Right now, you have the Democratic Establishment, which is pretty much the bastion of the “Third Way” vision of Hillary Clinton and the base The Resistance which is much more in tune with the social democratic vision of Bernie Sanders.

But it’s pretty obvious that there’s a close correlation between the populist rage of Trumplandia and the near constant Progressive outrage of The Resistance. There is a possible opportunity to transform Trumplandia from its current bigoted, racist, misogynist decaying corpse and turn it into a vibrant Progressive base.

It would take leadership to do that because there are so many wedge issues that Trump uses to divide the populace that might otherwise have things in common that don’t fit the obvious Left-Right divide. The issue is, The Resistance has to stop simply being outraged all the time and figure out a way to engage Trumplandia in a constructive manner.

All of this is very complex and fraught with peril because you might tear the Democratic Party asunder in such a way that Trump easily walks to reelection in 2020. One problem is we have to deal with Trump’s surreal Being There ability to succeed politically despite himself.

While it is very much likely that we’ll reach a moment of outrage burn out, but if we can find the right leadership then maybe that energy won’t burn out, but rather will grow in power. Of all the leaders I think could maybe ride the nascent growth of a Progressive movement as part of The Resistance, Jon Stewart seems like the perfect person to do it.

Though it seems like a joke, Jon Stewart has the perfect skill set to be a major leader in The Resistance. As anyone can tell you, the only person who stands up to a middle school bully is the class clown. Jon Stewart is great at articulating a vision and we need to take a serious look at him as a candidate. I’d like to think he’d run for governor of New Jersey, but I’d give him a pass and let him run for president right away if that’s what I had to do to get him to stop petting rescue animals at a zoo.

If the rise of Trump and Trumplandia has taught us anything, it’s that the Great Man theory of history is now something we really need to start to think about again. So, maybe Jon Stewart has significantly more power in his hands than he realizes. Of all the Progressive leaders out there such as Al Franken and Elizabeth Warren, it seems only Jon Stewart has just the right touch to, through effective leadership, bring the goals of the Progressive moment to the fore again.

The reason I say this is because though Sen. Franken is an entertainer like Stewart, he doesn’t seem to have the passion for the Progressive movement that the younger Stewart has. Warren faces the same misogyny that Hillary Clinton faced, so the forces against her as an effective Progressive candidate are even stronger than they would be otherwise.

So it seems Jon Stewart might be the person to pull what I suggest off.

But this begs the obvious question — is it actually even possible for even an effective leader to bring Trumplandia to its senses. The power, the sway that Trump seems to have over Trumplandia is so astonishing that something truly extraordinary may have to happen for them to stop seeing him as some sort of Dear Leader figure.

Things like automation and AI could pose a serious threat to the economy of the Western World and as such, if the Progressive movement is ahead of the curve, maybe, just maybe, these titanic forces may cause Trumplandia to evolve into a base not for the bizarre Trump, but for the more logical and reality-based world of the Progressive movement and Jon Stewart.

We live in extraordinary times and it seems as though anything is possible right now. So, it’s possible that in 2020 there could actually be a way for the Progressive faction of The Resistance to gain the upper hand. And, yet, it’s also possible that we’re no longer a democracy but rather a “managed democracy” like is found in Russia. If that’s the case, then no matter of engagement on the part of the Democratic base will make much difference, sorry to say.

Things like “dark money,” gerrymandering and active voter suppression may mean that the will of the people will be stymied to such an extent that we really will be left with only civil society to defend us from autocracy. If that’s the case, may God have mercy on our souls.

Shelton Bumgarner is the Editor and Publisher of The Trumplandia Report. You may reach him at migukin (at) gmail.com.

Eyes Wide Cuck: Trumplandia & The Origins Of The Vichy Republicans

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

When the history of Trumplandia is written, more than one chapter — hell, maybe a few books — will be devoted to how, exactly, an otherwise normal major party in a liberal democracy managed to succumb to the machinations of a racist, bigoted, misogynist demagogue.

Unlike, say, Hitler, Trump did not grow a small hateful party to dominance due to economic turmoil. On the contrary, Donald Trump like some sort of alien parasite exploded full grown out of the chest of a major party during relative property.

So, what the fuck happened?

One key issue we have address is that during eight years of “No Drama Obama” the center-Right in the United States grew hysterical. It grew hysterical for various reasons, including technologically facilitated bullshit bubbles found online as well as the biggest generator of bullshit out there, FOX News. One can not ignore some basic facts, as well — something about having the first African American president really evoked a visceral hatred on the part of the Republican base. Add to this the tax increases on the wealthy associated with Obamacare and the near light-speed pace of social change in the form of gay marriage, and you have the makings of a very volatile political situation indeed.

But just because the elements were there, doesn’t mean anything had to happen with it. It took a major global depression for Hitler to take over Germany and Donald Trump managed to do it during a time of relative prosperity. What’s more, he managed to take over the Republican Party from the inside and turn the establishment into Vichy stooges.

Personally, I lay the blame on the primary system. There were 16 Republican candidates and Trump managed to best 15 of them through sheer force of will, rhetoric and an unexpected adept political touch. If you wanted an example of the Great Man Theory of political history at work, Donald Trump is it. But for Trump personally, we probably would now have President Marco Rubio and Vice President Ted Cruz. You can almost see how Trump warped history. It’s not difficult. Rubio, but for being bested by Trump in the primaries had all the apparent characteristics needed to win. He was young, articulate and of Hispanic background. And he blew it. He totally blew it. He blew it because once middle school bully Trump called him “Lil Rubio,” and Rubio could not come back with an effective rebuttal, he was doomed.

So, Trump, personally, managed to completely fuck up everything because he understood the base better than anyone else. He understood them because, in a sense, he _was_ the base. He was wealthy, but crass. He seemed to “get” the needs of the common man, even though unlike all the other professional Republican candidates he had no ideology at all. His only ideology was whatever he happen to tweet that day.

And don’t ignore one basic fact: the base of the Republican Party, after having consumed epic, delusional amounts of bullshit, were hysterical. They wanted to shake things up in Washington in a big way and that one one of the reasons why they latched on to Trump, became of a part of Trumplandia: he had his weaknesses, but he was definitely going to be a change agent, no matter what.

So, I suggest that Trump’s ultimate victory came in large part from the particular quirks of the American primary system. If there were national primaries, it’s far less likely Trump would have won. I keep going back to this comparison because it seems so obvious to me: Trump’s winning of the primaries was biggest co-opting of an established political order since the Fall of France in 1940 and the establishment of the Vichy France government.

The effects of that fall of the Republican Party continue to echo to this day in enormous ways. But more about that in a moment.

The second part of this historical clusterfuck is Trump’s actual winning of the general election. It goes without saying, at least in my view, that Hillary Clinton was a historically weak candidate. One of the complaints by center-Right people was that she saw it as “her time” to be president. That was a little bit too close to a monarchy for a lot of people and they got turned off. So, given the choice between electing a perceived quasi-queen and a Russophile autocrat, they picked the latter. Let that sink in for a moment.

Additionally, it is pretty obvious that Trump’s win was aided by the Russians. That didn’t help Hillary Clinton’s chances any. Neither did then FBI Director James Comey’s letter regarding e-mails just a few days before the election. And all of THAT doesn’t even begin to address the wide-spread misogyny directed against Clinton on a personal basis. A lot of center-Right people had already gotten burnt out from having the first African American president and the first female president was just a bridge too far for them at that particular historical moment.

But, really, there remains a very specific group of the electorate whose reasoning for voting for Trump remains elusive to me. Let’s call them “the Good Americans.” These are your traditional establishment Republicans who historically have been the kingmakers in American politics. They go under different names. Sometimes they’re called Reagan Democrats. I am probably stumbling across a well known segment of the political spectrum that I just don’t known the proper nomenclature for.

Regardless, I just don’t get how it is they voted for Trump. How is it that these otherwise sane people voted for someone as ill-suited for the job of president, especially against someone as well qualified — at least on paper — as Hillary Clinton. The only thing I can think of is they “came home” when push came to shove and they held their nose simply because they couldn’t bear to see the Clinton’s come back into office. But I still feel that doesn’t really explain things.

Having said all that, the issue now is what does The Resistance do? How can The Resistance defeat Trumplandia in the various elections to come. That is a very difficult question for a number of reasons, chief amongst them being is I fear the United States isn’t really a democracy anymore. We’ve lurched towards something akin to the “managed democracy” found in Russia.

We haven’t completely gotten there, but we’re working on it. Really, the only reason why the process hasn’t been completed is the United States’ strong civil society. That’s it. So, really, if you don’t want to live in an true autocracy, thank late night comics, or a song writer or a movie producer. They’re our last hope to maybe organize some sort of collective rejection of Trumplandia’s final consumption of the American Republic.

But another thing I would suggest is, be engaged, not outraged. The Resistance has to figure out how to bridge the gap between itself and Trumplandia. Just assuming that someone who disagrees with you in a trolling you just plays into Trump’s hands.

This is very difficult for me to accept, myself. I really just want to ignore anyone who disagrees with me, but that way lies political failure for what I feel is important. Eventually, maybe not immediately, I am going to force myself to engage people who disagree with me online. It’s going to be tough, but I’ve got to do it.

And I would suggest you do the same. We’ve got a lot riding on it.

Shelton Bumgarner is the Editor and Publisher of The Trumplandia Report. You may reach him at migukin (at) gmail.com.

Hindsight Is 2020: Why Trump Won A Second Term

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I am not one of those who assumes that either Donald Trump will quit, or be impeached because there is a “Blue Wave” in 2018. There are no assurances in life, and Trump has proven himself to be a surprisingly good demagogue when it comes to conning that 30% of the electorate that seems completely unwilling to realize what he’s up to.

So, if a time traveler were to magically pop up in front of me and tell me that Trump had won a second term, I wouldn’t be all that surprised. I will be sad and disappointed in my fellow Americans…again…but it wouldn’t really surprise me.

But suppose the time traveler in question did not tell me why Trump won a second term. What would be my guesses as to how we managed to repeat the same mistake twice?

1. A split opposition
There is a very real chance that The Resistance will be split between Mark Zuckerberg and Al Franken. Or, in other words, between the tech business friendly liberal side and the progressive side. This has been an age-old problem for the Democratic Party and typical only when a relatively conservative Democrat pops up does the party win. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama being the mot notable examples. So, that would be my first guess.

2. We’re no longer a Republic
In this thinking, the sheer fact that Trump was a sitting president would mean it was simply impossible to get rid of him. Hence, America would go to a quasi-elected dictatorship of sorts, with only the historical quirk of an open seat sealing the deal altogether.

3. Yet more Russian meddling
This is a very real possibility. Given that the Vichy Republicans are completely indifferent to how the Russians hacked the 2016 election, it would make a lot of sense that they would do it again. So, pretty much the Republican Party would win AGAIN in 2020 for no other reason that they weren’t playing fair.

4. A wag the dog situation
If Trump were to start a major regional war with either North Korea or Iran at just the right time, he could probably ride a wave of popularity to a second term. If some hayseed rube like me a fly over state can think this up, then Mr. Bannon surely can.

5. A very weak Democratic candidate.
The worst case scenario is Hillary Clinton runs again in 2020. She has proven herself to be a horrible candidate and if she ran again, she would screw everything up…again. She has way too much baggage and she should let someone else run. It is possible that by 2020 Trump will have managed to churn out so many liberal martyrs that one of them will be good enough to defeat him.

6. People just got mad and didn’t engaged
If people don’t actually turn all their rage into actually political engagement, Trump will keep winning.

Regardless, I am cautiously optimistic that it’s at least possible that Trump will be defeated in 2020. Maybe. Hopefully.

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He may be contacted at migukin (at) gmail.com.

Hindsight Is 2020: Where The Race Stands Right Now

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

With all the talk of impeachment in the air these days, it’s kind of easy to miss sight of the obvious: it’s very possible Donald Trump will neither be impeached nor resign by the time the 2020 elections roll around. So, with that in mind, let’s look at some of the individuals who might run against Trump then.

Mark Zuckerberg
I would say Zuckerberg is probably, relative to my personal political leans, the best prospective candidate out there. He’s young, charismatic and very very wealthy. But he has some serious downsides relative to virtually everyone else who might look at him as a serious opponent to Trump. One is, I get the impression that Zuckerberg is definitely in the technocrat conservative business wing of the Democratic Party, pretty much about in the same spot as Mike Bloomberg. Given that by 2020 we may, as a nation, be completely polarized by such titanic forces that only about 2% of the electorate will be up for grabs, Zuckerberg running for office could very well tear the Democratic Party apart, which would allow Trump to — sigh — win reelection.

Jon Stewart
This, at least right now, is a rather fanciful daydream. Stewart would be, in some respects, the Democratic Party’s direct answer to Trump. But, for personal reasons, I doubt Stewart would run. He just wouldn’t be willing to take the leap into serious politics. He’s too interested in being a comic to risk what might happen to his life if he stops being silly and is serious about political change. But, having said that, he’d be a great candidate and I think he would do a lot to energize the base of the Democratic Party.

Al Franken
Franken is pretty much perfect from a political standpoint in this era of Trumplandia because not only is he a celebrity, but he’s a comic as well. And as we all know, the only person who stands up to a middle-school bully is the class clown. So, Franken could be a serious political contender in 2020. He has the most traditional political arc to doing it, at least. I think he would have a better than 50/50 chance of actually pulling it off because of his skill set. A lot would have to do with the state of the economy in 2020.

Elizabeth Warren
While I think she would do a great job, she can come off a little shrill to people who are immediate fans, and the very same misogyny that sunk the Hillary Clinton campaign would do the same thing to Warren. She is good at holding her own, though, and she might be a darkhorse.

Sally Yates
Ms. Yates is a potentially great candidate because she is something of a martyr for the cause. She may be a little bit too conservative for some people in the Democratic Party, so there’s that to take into consideration. And there are no signs that she wants to be president, given that she won’t even run for governor of Georgia as the Democratic Party there wants her to. But she’s definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Corey Booker
Booker is another one of those candidates who seems great on paper, but in practice might not be as good as we would like. His progressive credentials have been tarnished a little bit these days and though he’s charismatic, it would be interesting to see if that translates as well as a presidential candidate as you might think.

Really, my main fear is keeping the Resistance together. It is too likely that the Obama wing will bolt from the Bernie wing and you might have to major candidates running against Trump in 2020, thus assuring he wins again.

Hindsight Is 2020: Run, Jon Stewart, Run

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Though it is highly unlikely this will ever happen for various reasons — and if it does, we’re probably going to have to wait eight, not four years — I think Jon Stewart should run for office. And do so as quickly as possible.
While Minnesota Sen. Al Franken — an SNL alumn — is probably the person who will actually run, it seems in this weird world of Trumplandia that we live in Jon Stewart would be the perfect guy to bring some level of sanity back to our political process.

Don’t get me wrong, Sen. Franken would be a great guy to be president. He has the political experience and wit to crush someone like Donald Trump in debate. And he’d be a good president. But he’s maybe a little too droll for his own good. He’s funny, but it’s someone like Jon Stewart who could mobilize the center-Left base to the extent needed to win.

But there are lots of problems with this proposal.

First, it seems as if Stewart has no desire to be in the public eye at all. It seems as if he would prefer to pet stray animals in a zoo than change the world. That’s why I think not until we have to suffer through eight years of Donald Trump will Stewart finally decide to change his mind and do something that might help America get back on its rational feet.

Now that the precedent of a celebrity such as Trump becoming president has been set, it doesn’t seem that odd that someone like Stewart might run for president. I keep expecting him to run for governor of New Jersey, but that seems like something of a pipe dream.

And there’s a lot about his state of mind we don’t know. Would he be willing to make the cognitive leap to be taken seriously? Would he actually be willing to stop cracking jokes long enough to be serious about politics? That doesn’t even begin to address the issue of the various personal issues he’d have to deal with when it comes to putting himself in the public eye the way a major political candidate has to.

My guess is he won’t do it — ever. It’s unfortunate, too. He has all the qualities needed to run for office in today’s media environment.

Though, I would note something to keep an eye on. Should Stewart join Twitter, then I think maybe he’s thinking about running for office. Stewart doesn’t use any social media right now as best I can tell and should that change, all bets are off.

It would be really cool if Stewart ran for office, but, alas, it may remain a daydream for the writer of a blog no one reads.